I had wanted today to read Philip Lamantia (what was I thinking?), because he understood living more than I (and probably you, Internet, but that might be presumptuous) ever will, and because he’s now dead, so a tribute seems fitting. But, that said, I don’t think I can read his poetry, because I don’t think it will convey anything at all as it’s supposed to, and besides, Miette’s Bedtime Poetry Hour PodCAST is another project, isn’t it? But you should pay your own tribute to Lamarkin, on your own nickel: go here. And here too.
So then, since I couldn’t find anything I felt comfortable reading by Lamantia, I next thought naturally I should read Breton. I once had a copy of his prose poem “The Verb To Be,” but can only find it in French. Ah, but I know! (this is Miette’s inner voice speaking) I’ll commit a most selfish act and read the last chapter of Nadja! Which is redolent with the central tenets of surrealism that made Lamarkin swoon (“beauty will be convulsive or not at all.”), when it involved a deep awareness of the unconscious, before it became a synonym for indolence and an excuse for the dirty word of indifference. That would be perfect. But I can’t do that. Sure I can give away the last sentence; I just did. But I wouldn’t dare spoil it all for you– the obsessive spiral of desire and despair and embattled demons of hope that torture
us all most of us. Instead, I think I’ll read just the first few pages, which can stand alone as a Quick Sunday Afternoon Naptime Story Podcast, I suppose, and maybe you’ll read the rest yourself. You can buy the book, if you want, here. It’s short, this bedtime story podcast, so you can go quickly and read Lamantia afterward.
PS: Thanks for sound quality suggestions. Miette is not much of an audiophile, as you might imagine, and this is admittedly a ghetto production for the time being. I’ll see what I can do.
5 thoughts on “Nadja”
I just listened to this and yes, there are an awful lot of pops and scratches, elas. More importantly, on this one I’d forgotten to turn off the music, which will undoubtedly make this even an more intolerable bedtime story podcast experience. Again, elas!
I like the readings you’ve chosen. The classical background music is a nice touch..as is the horn honking in the background hee hee must the London traffic.
Corretction noted. Philip Lamantia–right. I was going crazy thinking you might have meant Philip Larkin… I have more trouble hearing poetry than short stories, oddly enough–though I know poems are often meant to be read aloud, I have to see them to fully understand, at least the non-narrative ones. But I just lack imagination, I guess.
That said, I enjoyed this reading, which wasn’t a poem, of course, and it’s always interesting to hear what those old surrealists actually wrote like.
Right, an awful conflation of Larkin and Lamantia; that’s what happens when you get old and tired. It’s the latter who recently died, and he the one who was tied to Breton, and so he the one I was talking about. Still, I quite fancy the name ‘Lamarkin,’ and am hereby claiming it as my own invention.