Tuesday, October 16, 2007
CHAD SWEENEY and VIOLA WEINBERG Oct. 15, 2007
Chad Sweeney read a number of pieces from his forthcoming book from Anhinga Press out of Tallahassee entitled Arranging the Blaze set to appear in 2009. His ghost armed itself with an incantatory style that put a hex on my camera. Or perhaps it was the flurry of his word stylings that were too fast to capture in The Space’s dark room. Nevertheless, the visage of Mr. Sweeney appeared and read fhis ine poems where in one piece the words of great texts were thrown at a bear. He read a poem where he tried to reinvent the word “is” in English so that it would not appear so static. Miraculously, he seemed to apply this word to himself as slowly, his outline transformed into smoke and then a man wearing a red flannel shirt and then into the vapor of cough spray. Or was it a shy perfume?
Viola Weinberg read from her new collection entitled Letters to Pablo Neruda. The book was comprised of selected epistolary poems (letters as poems) that Weinberg has written to the imagined spectre of Pablo Neruda, who has been looming over her darkest and brightest days for 25 years. The book is a search for the old great poet as muse, as sounding board for what has transpired in Weinberg’s life. Neruda has been accompanying Weinberg to her most private spaces and out on the open road in New Mexico among the burros in a burro sanctuary, even to beautiful Raley Field here in Sacramento. The results speak for themselves. Weinberg speaks frankly to Neruda as muse, bouncing her reflections off of him as she places Neruda between herself and the world. Neruda takes on the role of shadow presence and confessor for Weinberg as she yearns for Neruda frequently enough to forge her fantasy into a physical presence. He could almost serve as tour guide for her bed. Neruda has served as a guide for Weinberg through her writing life as she has seen many of her writer friends succumb to the pressures of "real" life. For her, Neruda has been the guide to the straight and narrow of her life as a writer. neruda is the companion that haunts her when she strays from her endeavor to write (imagine that!—a muse as a disciplinarian). Yet perhaps the word haunt is not quite the right word for how Neruda has invited himself into Weinberg's life, but it is a crude approximation for a houseguest who stays for 25 years and won't go away.