Li-Young Lee's book that arrived, admittedly, I got because I have all his other books, including autobiography. I buy it for completion as much as for the gems of poems. There may be diminishing returns. From peruses he has reshuffled understandings of previous memories of family, but the shifts, where and how may be interesting. Other things must have blipped his radar in life but this is what he needs to revisit until he doesn't. A person goes where one has to at each stage.
His direction is going expansive which I am reluctant to go with. I resist his broadening out to the Rumi-ecstatic, the turmoils of self-torture bouts with the romance of melancholy. His poetic peers perhaps push him to do more of the same lyric sentences of lived experience. Or that may be a matter of how his mind shifts not any outside influence. He is naturally a long polisher. His words are a slow-write and slow read not a rush through but slow pick thru. Borrowing doesn't make sense so I buy it. It buy it too for the voice. This one comes with a CD. His is a lovely reading voice. It would be better to see him perform again but the where or when of that is unknowable.
I think I prefer poems on the air, live, adapted to each telling and audience. There can be a constancy of page for archive but after first telling, the interest is in the nuance and shift. It's like recorded music or any paper-print. They are fixed, canned, vinegary.
I'd rather see music being created or stories being related interactively when the sharer knows I'm there, as much as a love books. Recording is the access to something, asynchronously gifted, some shard of idea but the completion is the exchange, the performance without it being stripped of 2 breaths, the potential for flub or improv or improvement. That makes it vital...
A paper page is behind authorial glass, a control-freak's space, that can't be lived in without the audience fearing to crease, without the hesitancy from recoil of the mandate that one must not opine in. The meaning is set out to be received, not dialogue with.
Dialogue becomes more complex in print, protracted monologues exchanged that can't have course correction if someone drifts off on some point. A long blather and one small portion taken up. You have to go on trust, all was heard instead of with small parcels of information, each with acknowledgement. Misunderstandings or judgement can cantilever instead of the natural continuous feedback of pinging back and forth in live words.
What is in recorded is final. Until the internet and the erasure and overlay that emulates oral, unless the archivists get to it.
But still, all that aside, 3 new books today. Behind my Eyes, Mountain Tea, Area of Fog. I'm heady with anticipation to dig into them all. And yet still 4 projects of synthesis (of which writing here is none of them) before I can conscionably dig in.