This entire week I have wanted to post something to mark the occasion of Myung Mi Kim's and Michael Cross' reading together at the Poetry Project this past Monday. With the exception of myself, Cathy Park Hong, Eliza Newman-Saul, Stacy Szymaszek, Brenda Ijiima, a creative writing workshop from Fordham and a handfull of PP regulars there was an unusually small turn-out for the reading. This seems to me a curious fact where Kim is at the top of her game, and Cross has emerged as a significant younger poet and seminally artful publisher of new writing.
I have already written something at this blog about Kim's recent book with Cross, *River Antes*, a book which no doubt furthers Kim's serialist project and should, with any luck, come out soon with a major academic or trade publisher to reinforce Kim's reputation as one of a handfull of American poets at middle-age thinking across their books in rigorous ways. After hearing Kim read again last Monday, I also recognize Kim to be entirely singular in her off-page delivery. Very few readers give such vigilant* attention to their presentation, where the decisive pauses in Kim's reading create an auditory situation necessary to hear what is being read--and therefore for the work to convey maximal meaning, to onto-acoustically (less than psychologically) maintain the tenuous relationship between reader and audience. What is also consistently striking to me is Kim's ability to change tones and registers as quickly as she does, and to maintain her voice at a threshold of audibility. Where the voice remains at this threshold the audience "leans in" heightening its own listening powers, making a room ring with language-presence: a decisive Pneumatology, a relation within which to dwell...
Of Michael Cross I will only say now that he is one of my most valued contemporaries. This value issues mainly from the intensity of his writing and revision practice, as well as the difficulties of his thinking. Cross's recent poems "Sacred" & "cede" (now out as a chapbook with Vigilance press) display the tuitions of Cross's efforts. Each word feels here as if a nail driven into the page, and the rhythms of the poems cleave a modal, inter-textual quickness of a hearing-brain making caesuras within longer lines--nearly punctuationless, antinomian, utterly obediant and potential (free?). The importance of caesura in Cross's poetics points to what is for me a dual problem of Grace and intention in certain ongoing poetics. How the en-Graced writer may move as a vitual automaton in the language, going beyond mechanism in mechanism itself, emptying knowledge of a knowing or knowable content. A poetics of Kleist's God-Marionette, of Event, of Cartesian-cinematic phantoms. Inasmuch as Cross approaches his work like a (Matthew) Barney or (Rachel) Whiteread, or before them Robert Smithson, making molds as "Non-Sites" by which to process language-materials, his work also admits a continuation of some of the great living artist-poets: Acconci, Coolidge, Darragh, (Susan) Howe, Mayer, P. Inman, Retallack, Taggart.
*I borrow this word from Stacy Szymaszek's concise introduction for Cross and Kim last Monday.