Sunday, April 21, 2013

robert kroetsch: selections from the hornbooks of rita k

[hornbook #1]

Often in the afternoon he cries for awhile. He wants a poem that will be as accommodating as a peanut shell. Sometimes he sits at his desk while he cries. Sometimes he goes outside and pretends he is weeding his rock garden. He wants a poem that will make him understand why men plant land mines.

Sometimes he laughs in the middle of his crying. He wants his fingers to recover their lost intelligence. He wants his mouth to speak. He stares out through the windows at the place where the sky should be. He wants a brick to crash through one of the windows, A brick thrown by a poem.

[hornbook #27]

The crescendo of our loneliness fills library basements. Books transform into dust, dust into landfills, landfills into gas. There is always hope.

The brittleness of our desire forces us to climb stairs on our hands and knees. We groan. We imagine we are praying. There is always hope.

He is always standing in the snow, watching for the sun.

[hornbook #28] 
     A poem is an empty house.

[Stranger, you must enter, then knock.]

In a poem, everything (including the hollow door, the reddening sky) is at risk. A risking business:
     once again the old thump
     onto belly or the rump.

[hornbook #[]
One of the considerable and neglected art forms is the stack of papers.
This can be at once a literary form and a version of performance art. In my own case, it takes he form, most often, of a stack of letters which I feel I should or must answer quite soon. But not immediately. The stack then occasions in me a complex mixture of delay, anticipation, dread, shame, guilt and self-condemnation. I am vaguely aware of the individual sheets of paper and texts in the stack, but the hole [sic] is much greater than sum of the parts. The mere and sustained appearance of the stack, unfortunately, announces a kind of completion. It is a completion which is flexible in that it can be added to but not subtracted from. The stack, like a poem, begins, if nothing else, to describe intention.

Kroetsch, Robert. The Hornbooks of Rita K. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2001.