In 2014, I began to read Numéro Cinq & I’m enamoured of it because of the variety & depth of articles published on the site. “Numéro Cinq started January 11, 2010, as…a reading, discussion and resource site for a small group of Douglas Glover‘s friends and writing students. It has morphed into something monstrous, tenticulate, multiform and quite possibly (gasp) alive!”
Numéro Cinq publishes new content constantly. here are a few poetry related highlights from recent issues.
The Ralph Angel essay begins with this quote:
“It is the performance of the poem which is the poem. Without this, these rows of curiously assembled words are but inexplicable fabrications.” –Paul Valéry
In the essay, Angel talks about various novels & poems, some he hasn’t been able to bear finishing because of their beauty & wholeness. At the time of writing the essay, he had not been satisfied with his own writing. Reading works like Sappho’s fragments, he realizes: “I could no longer bear the sanctuary of feeling whole. It didn’t feel right. Without thinking about it or knowing what I was doing I’d moved away from that. I walked in my own dark. Every novel is a fragment, I thought. Every poem.”
& then quite wonderfully, he talks about the boxes of Joseph Cornell. I am a huge fan of these boxes. “Joseph Cornell understood that it was his job to walk the city, and to rummage through the fragments that are there, and to collect them, and that it was his job, too, to go back home and, in his quiet, to do the work, time and time again, in his quiet, to get things done.”
Angel talks about how we experience the world in fragments & moments, rather than in a linear fashion. He muses on his need, in the end, for silence.
In the April issue, DM Spitzer responds to the essay in “Mythology:A Response to Ralph Angel’s “The Exile and Return of Poetry”
His essay begins with a discussion of mythological gods & monsters, the idea that the poet designs a sanctuary into which the monster of imagination is led. This essay is quite thrilling & inspiring: “Write poems on papyrus scraps and send them to the skies on wings of smoke and flame. Too near the sun they have already burned to ash and their flight continues. Poem needs no ground save the whole of things; air discloses the whole.”
I like the idea of being a poet who creates a sanctuary for the fragment, with the idea of sanctuary being, as Spitzer suggests, “a forbidden vein of dark blood writing the holy secrets across its innermost holy place, a place of healing.”
I am not so sure about the idea of being a poet who can create a holy place or a place of healing. that part doesn’t sit well with me, but the forbidden bit does…
I am not so sure either about his contention that wholeness comes first; although he uses Aristotle to back up this idea, so who am I to argue? “Only after the presencing of wholes to consciousness do the fragments begin to appear, light-catching as glass-shards.”
I don’t usually see the whole or the big picture, but notice only the fragments until some well-meaning person points out the whole to me.
& then this apt quote by Schopenhauer: “[N]ot everything can be given straight away to the understanding through the work of art,” as Schopenhauer noted, “but only what is needed to set the imagination on the right path; it must always leave out something—indeed, the final thing—for the imagination to produce for itself.”
So it turns out that Spitzer is speaking of a different kind of wholeness, presentation of the art by the creator & its reception by an audience makes the work complete…which I can get on board with & which is in keeping with Angel’s point: “Out of this engagement the fragmentary poem overcomes itself and reaches its latent wholeness, which consists in the belonging-together of literary art and the thoughtful auditor or reader. All strives for wholeness.[vi] Imagination reaches out for the dynamism inherent to phenomena, as phenomena strive towards an outside-of-themselves that completes them.” This is, I guess you could say, perfection.
Another piece I also enjoyed “Entering A Contrary Moon |Poems & Paintings — Elaine Handley & Marco Montanari" like Numéro Cinq, I have a thing for hybrid art. “Ekphrasis is the Greek rhetorical device of inserting the description of a work of art into a text as a way of creating meaning (by analogy or parallel).”
When war ends ghosts rise up
to blossom white against
the world gone black,
color like hope, bled out.
from Rapprochement by Elaine Handley in response to Maro Montanari’s Dark Merging into Light.
& please do take a look at this: "Proposal for a Whole New Scale: Poems — Julie Larios” Larios writes energetic poetry: “the comedy of the body that won’t stop.”
There’s a lovely & poetic photo essay by Canadian Shawna Lemay - http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2014/04/10/the-flower-can-always-be-changing-essay-photographs-shawna-lemay/
thanks to Numéro Cinq, I have discovered the poetry of Leslie Ullman. Read this review of her latest book: “Progress on the Subject of Immensity.” Her work has synaesthesiastic qualities [yes, I’m making that word up].
and then there’s this! "Apologia: Why Do We Write?" — Genese Grill
“As Kafka suggested, a really great book is like an axe that breaks the frozen sea within us.” … “To write is to challenge the negligent, disinterested, laissez-faire status quo.”
"One thimble-full of salvaged words, one pearl of sweat or salt tear, one drop of ink, made of belief, commitment, made of love of humanity, of history, of culture, and of nature, no matter how humble, no matter how seemingly quiet, inarticulate, or out of tune, no matter how seemingly unheeded, may be precisely the enlivening, moistening alchemical liquid needful to keep the well of inspiration from going dry once and for all."
Necessary Fiction- Fit Into Me by Molly Gaudry, April’s writer-in-residence. in short fragments Molly tells the story of a tea-house woman, a recurring character in her work. I would, if I had to classify “Fit Into Me,” call it poetic fiction. but why classify? It is lyrical, full of sensual & erotic details.
“The first word of the tea house woman’s story is dripping, which could refer to anything: the faulty kitchen faucet; the basement ceiling of the tea house after the flood; stems of wildflower bouquets pulled putrid from tall white pitchers; even her own wet cunt.” Book One, Fragment One.