Paul Blackburn – The Journals (1975)

Robert Kelly, Preface from The Journals: “The Journals to my mind are Blackburn’s quintessential work, and demonstrate the way his work knew to go, the power of music he could charm out of everything that came his way, or even looked as if it were thinking about it. The poems and entries are also his last work. The latest writing in it comes up to six weeks of his death in September 1971. From his papers, it is clear that in those last weeks he tried to collect the Journal pages together, and did sense them (as many of his readers from 1968 onward did) as a continuous and coherent book. The present text follows generally the order of what he had collected together and erratically paginated as The Journals. When repetitions, revisions, and versions have been taken away, our inheritance in this particular amounts to a typescript of some 160 pages. Power. The tip he took from Pound was not a tune, but a way of finding. Of the poets working in these past three decades, I would say Blackburn is the paradigm of the processual—the one who most allowed his life and work to intertwine, who sought and found in the happenstance of experience a mysterious beauty called music when we hear it, that is, the Form made clear. His work reads the wayside signs and covert signatures, and is alert to every coincidence, analogy, trick of the light. To say these things amounts to saying that Blackburn was a formal poet—he sought form and found form. He worked hard enough at the trobadors and their prosodies to qualify, had he chosen, as a walking book of meters and ‘forms’—but those collected shapes were not the forms that concerned him. What form can be discovered as one moves through life? So his forms are always innovative, sometimes mimetic (because he loved descriptions and people and simple alignments and catalogues), but more often directly expressive of the interaction of the thing seen with the man seeing. And very much he loved to see. …”
The Journals by Paul Blackburn: Burt Kimmelman

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