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Friday, August 8, 2014

Introduction: Paul Pines, Gloucester Writers Center

Paul Pines, sailor, teacher, acclaimed novelist, psychotherapist and poet –a poet of impeccable modernist credentials who communicates with a clear and methodic style, information of an epic order, presented in a lyric mode: spiritual, historical, ecological overtones. So Henry, the Gloucester Writers Center is paying a lot of attention to jazz and performance this summer: Sascha Feinstein, last week, Bob Holman, Bowery St. luminary, soon, who wrote this about Last Call at the Tin Palace in POETRY PICKS - The Best Books of 2009

"...poems that are stories that are jazz that are memories that are everlasting imprints of music on retinas and the truth from the other side of the bar."  

In 1965 Paul managed the Tin Palace, a notable jazz venue just up the street from CGBG’s. The concatenation of allusions, cited by Bob, is central to Paul’s method.

Paul, solely by chance, perhaps by reason of some deep unspoken affinity, has traversed the same terrain that has occupied me in my poetry pilgrimages: in particular, Mexico in Reflections in a Smoking Mirror and islands as destinations within a gnostic soul voyage in Fishing on the Pole Star, both recently from Dos Madres in Loveland Ohio, my publisher also, to give the extraordinary Robert Murphy a boost.

Pines’ lyric mode, “atolls of longing” (25), brilliant fragments structure his pages. Fishing on the Pole Star is composed of short narratives within an allegorical overlay. The story of the Pole Star, a boat and guiding light both, one must assume, as crisp and cleanly presented as Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. The subject is fishing. The imagery is also reminiscent for me of John Gardner’s, maybe October Light, in particular, a feeling for detail that carries the reader over gaps that are really not incoherent in the least. Maybe there’s an upstate NY quality of air, narrative, and image.

We learn from these poems about fishing and history and the work of the imagination, “forms we bring to light / as if they might / tell us more about / ourselves” (71).

I quote briefly from the poem “Zopilote at the Hotel flamingo” from Reflections in a Smoking Mirror, Pines’ Mayan book: “First / he saw himself / through its eyes / and thought: / If you weren’t / alive I’d pick  / your bones … // Then / he flew / back / into his own eyes” (20). The mystery of what is alien to humans much more staccato and remote, more transformative perhaps, than our Olson of Gloucester, who wrote of the chi-mi or zopalote in his Mayan Letters, after having seen the bird recover from a stoning by young boys: “never got such a sense of a bird’s strength, inside strength as this one gave” (Selected Writings 79). There are degrees of allegory and transformation, my simple point.
--Don Wellman, Aug. 6, 2014

Paul’s topic is “Fishing on the Pole Star, Trolling with the Fisher King, the Function of Poetic Imagination."