This Time


This Time includes 216 pages of prose poetry on politics, music (Bach and Coltrane), eros, art (Goya and van Gogh), philosophy (Nietzsche and Levinas), and the quotidian (daily bread & news that stays news).
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This Time

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This Time includes 216 pages of prose poetry on politics, music (Bach and Coltrane), eros, art (Goya and van Gogh), philosophy (Nietzsche and Levinas), and the quotidian (daily bread & news that stays news).
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This Time, Robert Gibbons' tour de force, showcases the talents of this artist. Ear for language, eye for detail, ability to touch both intellect and emotion at the same time distinguishes his work. 'I'm going to try to shove the tail into the mouth of the snake of Time' he writes in Snake of Time. The collection works hard to fulfill that aim using references to music, art, nature, and philosophy to startle the reader into lifting one's eyes to where they are in Time, using language to enhance our ability to see more clearly and perceptively. This is a book to be read slowly, carefully. A journey, creating for the reader a sense of Timelessness permission to undertake personal exploration and reflection. One completes that journey a better observer and with a deeper appreciation of the world with Gibbons as the guide."
—-David Ferriero, former Director of the New York Public Library

I’ve said before in Evergreen that surrealism still provides the dominant impulse in American poetry, perhaps because its ambitious, bottom-line program — that everyday life should be permeated with the playfulness and creative spirit of art – seems further from realization than ever before. And this influence is felt even by poets who are not avowed surrealists, such as Robert Gibbons, whose latest book can be seen as taking up and reconstructing prominent surrealist themes, just as an avowed American surrealist, Allan Graubad, perhaps the premier American poet in this style, can extend some traditional surrealist tropes in unexpected and psychically satisfying ways. First to Gibbons. To me, the identifying trait of this writing is how his verse is filled with splendid, deeply won concatenations where his observations on, say, a walk along the Portland harbor ties together with his readings and knowledge into a terse, bone-solid commentary on his and our lives. But, taking this aspect in a wider context throws me back to the surrealist idea of objective chance. This concept refers to chance events, seeming coincidences, that are imbued with a near-holy significance. An example of this occurs when Breton meets Nadja, the mysterious woman who becomes the center of his novel. A fragment of a dream and some recent readings cross with and foretold what would happen in their accidental rendezvous. The thing about such instances of objective chance is that, for the full-blooded surrealist, they are to be awaited and fulsomely welcomed as signal occurrences. Gibbons put this concept in a new light by fashioning his life – filling it with deep reading, solitude, a rapt involvement with nature and close attention to artistic masters (from Bach to Coltrane to Goya to Klee to Bergson to Kristeva), the droop of the day, and the moods of his partner – so that objective chances are a daily occurrence. In other words, such vital, unprompted coincidences are found opening spontaneously at least once in every 24-hour cycle. And I mean 24 hours literarily since, taking another hint from the surrealists, he often finds these match-ups are links between what he dreamed the night before and a waking happening. Given this, two questions spring to mind. The first, which has already been answered, might be put like this: How does one mold a life that will yield such fruits? His solitude, awareness and immersion in aesthetic depths already explain that. The second would be this: If these coincidences are captured in verse, what type of poetry will they yield? An examination of any of these prose poems provides an answer. In one of the last poems in the book, Gibbons describes an incident that occurred at his job as a machine tender (by the way, it’s quite a commentary on the state of the arts that one of the greatest poets in our nation finds himself, age 58, earning his living by working in a textile factory). He is discussing a poem of his with a fellow worker and mentions “Jerry at front line conveyor belt expressing genuine interest in my work, & interpreting it better than slothful academics at the local college … Amy [another worker] loved Matisse. Cheryl preferred van Gogh.” He summarizes his thoughts on the factory in this way, “There were Great Souls kept out of sight there.” However, that’s not the key insight of the poem, the one provoked by objective chance. When he gets home from the day’s work, he finds a book in the mail, sent by a friend at the National Gallery. It’s called Grave Matters, and includes pictures of the headstones of famous writers and artists. Amused but not overly impressed, he remarks that it doesn’t include the last resting place of Bach, but, he adds, in an insight that includes both the composer and the Great Souls, “But then, again, work is the true marker.” As an aphorism that last thought might not be overly striking, but as it appears here, embedded in and reflective of a day’s flow and its surprising coincidences, it is both profound and profoundly moving. Another color is the poetic horse Allan Graubard rides. His work is steeped in the surrealist tradition. Despite the complex intellectual scaffolding that surrounds this movement, its verse tends to be narrative, not cerebral or reflective (in the manner of a Gibbons). The surrealists are story tellers, taking plots from dreams rather than other genres, and, more often than not, focusing on love, mad love. Key writers in this style, among whom I count Graubard, describe a world filled with wonder, excitement, awe, humor, anything but business as usual. Here’s how Graubard introduces a character: “You came with fox fur stilts … with feet torn by stingers.” You can imagine what his first encounter with a woman like this will entail. He approaches one with this pickup line, “It’s time we sat down // and swapped faces.” His images are extreme, ravishing and rush upon you like a spilled bucket of lava. But as I said surrealist poetry is filled with stories. One of the book’s high points, the sequence “Fragments from Nomad Days,” describes a desert encounter between the narrator and a mystery vamp. Their relationship takes various bizarre turns, as when he says, “I would step through her eyes, closing each door behind me, one then another and another after that,” and includes an invocation of the surrealist project I noted at outset, the dream of making life creative through and through, here expressed by noting the reverse, “I accept my lot, which is something quite different from making peace with the world! The spirit of my anger would never allow me to collapse so thoroughly that I would perpetually mistake modern life for what I desire.” This last sentiment helps point up the contrast between the two poets. Despite his lowly social position, Gibbons lives a bulgingly full life. Guided by a reliance on objective chance, he is able to find a pith of each day that is intellectually bracing and emotionally deep. Graubard, by contrast, while also acclimatized to his lot, is perturbed by the multiple failures, injustices and criminality he sees around him. It might seem this has led him to tell surrealist tales that might light a fuse under readers, whom, admiring these offbeat fictions, will grasp his view. But such a supposition is too facile. After all, who picks up a book of surrealist poetry except someone who is already miserable? I don’t mean they are morose beings, but rather to make this more specific, they are dispirited and near defeated by the lackluster and shallow quality of most personal relationships in our menacingly evil society. Tulip seeks to turn a page, not by demonstrating what human connections, especially love affairs, would be like in a freer society, one, to keep being concrete, organized on either socialist or communal anarchist principles, but by graphically instancing what the feeling tones of such loves would be: ever-unexpected, ever-dangerous, ever-entrancing. BIO Jim Feast with Ron Kolm wrote the novel Neo Phobe (Autonomedia), and has written a number of health books with Gary Null, including Germs, Biological Warfare and Vaccinations: What You Need to Know (Seven Stories). He belongs to the Unbearables writing group and has co-edited four of their anthologies, the most recent being The Unbearables Big Book of Sex. --Jim Feast Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780982426333
  • Publisher: Nine Point Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Gibbons' work transcends genres. Both Guy Davenport and Marjorie Perloff compared his work to Rimbaud’s. Sam Hamill wrote, "Anyone familiar with Thelonius Monk’s music cannot help but feel the quirky syncopations of Gibbons' mind fitting perfectly with those of the pianist." At sixty-five years old, he’s still walking around the waterfront taking in the world, or at the desk in the back room writing, often peering underneath for the Feminine, the image of the Hidden, embodiment of Beauty, signature of Peace, source of Love, and so on.
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Table of Contents

Silence's Desire 5

The Naked Beauty 6

Out There, in the Far Reaches, Twice in One Day 7

In Full Accord 8

No Less Passionate 9

Making It a Better World 10

A Rapture 11

Vortex of Inclusion 12

On My Wavelength 13

Senses Rising Upward 14

Always Crossing Borders 15

A Long Time 16

Granting the Stone the Added Dimension 17

Language, That's It! 18

One Voice, & Many 19

With Whisper, Bellow, & Shriek 20

The Geography of Dreams 21

"When" 23

Rhythms of Memory 24

First, I Wrote a Poem 25

Notes for November 26

The Unusual Reverberation 27

To Be Critical of My Times 28

Bastille Day in America 29

The Instrument Makers 31

Snake of Time 32

Music 33

Discordance 34

The Improvisational Vision of Marilyn Crispell 35

The Ways of the World 36

Ancient Dance, Modern Song 37

If I Have To, I Will 38

Portland & Florence: Latitudes of Immanence 39

Where I Knew Rhythms Would Change 40

Mapping the Act of Taking Freedom 41

Masks of Power 42

Let's Remember Them 43

History is Missing 44

Ivory & Black Keys 45

So the Soul Calls Out, in Silence 46

A Moment Stretching toward Eternity 47

Goya Drew Distortions: What Cruelty 48

I Saw This 49

Criminalization of Homelessness 52

Art Can Be a Most Dangerous Weapon 53

Possible Swift Solution? 54

This Is a Love Poem, Nonetheless 55

A Period's End 56

Before Fading into the Unrecorded Annals of Dream History 57

Not a Prevarication 58

Fins & Wings 59

Just Listen to the Name 60

Letter by Letter 61

Secrets & Surprises 62

May First 63

Swirling Blakean Mass 64

To Chant On 65

Music for Generations 66

Brutally Beautiful World 68

Making Fire 69

Funnel of Time 71

Composed in Solitude 72

Ignorance Is an Immense Wilderness 73

(Been & Gone) 74

That Blank Slate 75

Mix of Art & Life & Memory 76

Vision of Madrid 77

Writing on Goya 78

Goya's Etching, Murió la verdad (Truth has died) 79

Reference to Goya 80

Distended Triptych 81

Wine of Freedom 82

Goya's Passionate Introduction 83

Goya's Spiritual Grit 84

Tauromaquia 85

Goya's Influence 86

At the Center of Art 87

When I Went to Spain I Rode the Cornada, Gore of the Bull 88

No Denying 89

Deep Song 90

The Death of Someone Close to Him 91

Goya's No English Landscape Painter 92

Sunday in D Major 93

Time, Truth & History 94

Poetry & Truth 95

Time = Goya 96

Goya & Basquiat 97

Time's Pulse 98

In the Service of Art 99

Eerie Similarities 100

Swallow it, Dog 101

Time for Lightness? 102

Staged Inside a Dark Cave 103

Goya's The Third of May 104

Goya Pictures an Invisible Hell 105

Goya's Good Friday, 1780-2009 106

Triptych: Between Dream & Reality 107

Music & Memory 109

Bach & The Blues 111

Blues'll Be Black & Convulsive 113

Atonal Rhythming Thing 114

I'm No Romantic 116

For the Skin 117

Time Making Decisions 118

It's Impossible to Waste Time 119

Turn, Turn 120

Love Under the Snow 121

The Question 122

Double-Sided Life: Dream & Postcard 123

The Original Bargain 125

A Voracious Reader 126

Practically Speaking 129

The Real Source of This Work 130

Color Will Do ALL the Work 131

The Ionian Wave 133

When One Carves Out Free Time 135

Great Stones & Fishbones 136

Ghost of Basho 137

Handed Down 138

The Ancient Music Time Continues to Conduct 139

Dwelling in the Fu-Ch'un Mountains 140

Into Undisclosed Time 141

What Is 142

For a Second 143

When Fear of Cold & Darkness Calls up Light & Heat of Music 144

Platinum after Midnight 145

With All the Time in the World 146

There's Still Time 147

Oracle of St.-Étienne 148

Resounding, Anachronistically 149

Whisper between Lovers 150

Stepping Off Point 151

Blood & Water 152

Unknown & Unseen 153

Pupil & Teacher 154

Instinct & Desire 156

Caption & Inscription 157

Mercy & Justice 159

Tattoos & Traumas 160

Prelude 164

Now, as Always 165

Salem Came Back to Me Before I Came Back to Salem 167

Rhythm of Desire & Resistance, I-XX

I The Quiet Hour 169

II Before My Time 170

III This is Resistance 171

IV Open Venetian Window 172

V Give & Take of Silence 173

VI Between Two Roses 174

VII The Super Moon 175

VIII To Recreate It 176

IX Between Two Pages, Including Chagall's Lovers in the Red Sky 177

X Eternal Beauty of the City 178

XI Finding More of the Eternal 179

XII Rising toward Joy 180

XIII Triumphal Return to the City 181

XIV Not Too Classical 182

XV Note from Underground 183

XVI The Company of Solitude 184

XVII Magnetic Reconnection 185

XVIII Paris, Venice, Naples, & Beyond 186

XIX It's a Matter of Freedom 187

XX Of Mayakovsky 188

Five Easy Pieces 189

Dream Cities 191

Lover of Thresholds 192

Of Miró's, Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Éclair, 1974 193

At the Feast 194

Fate in Cashmere 195

Pre-Christmas Visitation, December 15, 2010 196

Their Uncanny Abilities 197

Work is the True Marker 198

The Music Itself 200

Dickens Reads the Carol in Boston on Christmas Eve, 1867* 201

Audible Tattoo 203

The Trip 204

Vision Destiny 206

Pulse & Vibration in the Soul of Matter 207

"What Can We Expect in the Future?" A Chorus in Five Parts 208

Doors & Walls 210

Here, Take This 211

Wanting Raw Space 212

Time & Taste 213

This Time 214

Afterward: Out of, & Beyond This 216

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