Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Timothy Bradford Poetry Reading

As you will see in the Notes section of Timothy Bradford's book Nomads with Samsonite, he has shaped many ideas, poems, memories and thoughts using or borrowing other texts from writers and artists. He has intertwined his own stories and personal memories with his memories of much that he has read and seen. While we can say we all do that, it is usually not a theme that stands alone so boldly; and it is one of the things that makes Nomads with Samonsite so unique. Quoting poets like Pound, Stein, Eliot, and gathering inspiration from these artists gives us a glance at Bradford's personal library of memory and brings the abstract qualities of the book together. It forces our minds to wander to these other texts and understand their impact on Bradford's poetry.

Before Timothy Bradford began reading poems from Nomads with Samsonite, he sang a song that was very cool and really set the tone for how the reading would go... personal and open. He sang a song that not only reflected his own beliefs, but it opened the field of all our minds to ponder and accept whatever was about to happen next. To be open to all his poetry. He told me later he sang the song as a last minute thing because of a dream he had the night before. I asked him after class to send me a copy of the song because I had loved it so much. He did send it to me, along with other key songs of Milarepa.


 Let Your Mind Stay
I can contemplate the sea
But waves make me uneasy
Milarepa tells me how to meditate on waves
If the sea’s as easy as you say
Waves are just the seas play
Let your mind stay within the sea
I can contemplate the sky 
But clouds make me uneasy
Milarepa tells me how to meditate on clouds
 If the sky’s as easy as you say 
Clouds are just the skies play
Let your mind stay within the sky

I can contemplate my mind
But thoughts make me uneasy
Milarepa tells me how to meditate on thoughts
If the mind’s as easy as you say
Thoughts are just the minds play
Let your mind stay within your mind

 Bradford went on to read poems from Nomads and gave us some back story on most of them. I love when poets do that. It provides a sense of where we are in space and time and lets the imagery in the mind have something to build on. What I like about Bradford's poetry, is that there is something in every poem to hang on to, something that takes the mind on a journey, but always begins with a relative, grounding point of origin. The poems are often about real objects, people, experiences, that one can connect to, even if it's in an abstract way. There are themes of exploration and consciousness throughout the book based on what we know, touch and feel in our lives, and he explores the world, sometimes playfully, but always contemplating realms of existence. My favorite poems that he read were "Study of Paris in Goose Liver, Glass, and River" and "Arboreal". 

The trees planted in
the median
follow me. They

could be a kind of peppertree
given the narrow,
delicate leaves, like

children's fingers, the milky-white
sap, and berries
with a spicy resinous smell.

I try not to look at them,
but there they are,
flaming red and asking

for my attention. The mind's
adheres to such things

and makes the world leap
into being.
Without the world, consciousness

shines in the dark cave of
your skull
and can implode or enlighten

depending upon your ease
with such light.
But the alternative - perception,

parsing things up, then labels,
and finally,
the schematic diagrams of the brain -

so often seems an ego trick
to make the little
you feel essential, or in need of

a new car. Or an education.
A friend
is reading Ricoeur in translation.

(Ricoeur's words denser than daylight
is long, so he could
still be reading, though I suspect

you understand "is reading"
as "read."
Don't you know we grow old

through such interpretations?
Couldn't it all be
present progressive?)

I'm dubious about anything
in translation
especially French

literary theory, and wonder
about the hours
he spends grinding his mind,

delicate blossom, through such
Such precious time could be

better spent in the parking lot
the essential red

of the trees, manifested
without translation.

-Morgen Williams