Friday, April 04, 2008

Poem: G. E. Patterson + Chicago Latino Film Festival + 40 Years Ago, MLK Jr.

G. E. PattersonOne of the many Cave Canem poets I haven't seen in a while but whose work I cherish is G. E. "Gar" Patterson. Gar's first book, Tug, received the Minnesota Book Prize, and his newest book, To and From (Ahsata Press, 2008) continues many of the concerns of that first volume, though in a strikingly different formal language.

The new book comprises quasi-sonnets crafted from a wide array of quotations, which Gar carefully culled and then shaped into a flexible lyric that embodies the (post-)post-modern even as the poems, in their openness and indeterminacy, evoke an intimacy, a personal and public sensibility, that is redolent of poetry from the pre-post eras. Here is one I basically copped directly from the Ahsata Press page, and its almost elegiac tone and pastoral imagery reminds me of John Ashbery's work (in The Double Dream of Spring) of the late 1960s and early 1970s, or Ralph Angel's poems, from Neither World. It's a lovely one.

“Here and there . . . .”
—T.S. Eliot

“ . . . for a particular point of view—”
—Lyn Hejinian

It May Happen
as though it doesn’t matter what is real

“ . . . something almost . . . with asking.”
—Brenda Hillman

According to their signs we’re in the country
Far off things are being put on the record
Where it may not matter to anyone
If the shadows hide themselves behind rain
The canal opening below the sky
Daytime moving in swirls the painted colors
Or the idea wind sometimes stops and starts
What we might more properly call nostalgia

If we wanted to we could follow later
Without giving up his place in the world
A color postcard folded in our pockets
The light informing us it’s afternoon
When what we feel is we remember feeling
Not long ago it was the time before

Copyright © 2008 by G.E. Patterson


Tonight the Chicago Latino Film Festival begins. The site seems a bit harder to search than in past years, but a bit of surfing around the calendar shows that there'll again be some unusual and compelling films screening at various sites across the city. Two I wished I'd caught today include Vanessa Goksch's 2006 feature Frekuensia Colombiana / Turning in to the Colombian Hip Hop Movement, a documentary on traditional forms Colombian music and its relation to Hip Hop, which won't be screening again, and Sanpachando (San Pacho es pa’l que lo goce) / Sanpachando (St. Pacho is for the revellers), a 2006 documentary by Daniel Mosquera and Sean Ferry on the afro-ethnic, religious, and cultural meaning of a festival honoring Saint Francis of Assisi, in Chocó, Colombian.

Two Faces of JanusI am planning to see, Edmundo H. Rodríguez's 2008 feature film, Las dos caras de Jano / The two faces of Janus (photo at right), which explores a serial killer amidst Puerto Rico's gay community. Another is Vinicius, Miguel de Faria Jr.'s 2005 documentary on the multitalented Brazilian cultural figure, Vinícius de Morães (1913-1980), the internationally famous lyricist of Bossa Nova hits like The Girl from Ipanema, and the playwright whose whose stage play became Marcel Camus's 1959 touchstone, Black Orpheus.

One I'm debating is José Enrique Pintor's 2007 film Sanky Panky, whose name rings familiar to anyone who's visited DR or dropped by the DR1. It naturally tells the story of a colmado owner who feels his life has become a cage and takes up the Sanky profession. The Chicago Reader appraises it like this:

This crass musical comedy from the Dominican Republic stars the annoying Fausto Mata as a loutish grocery-store owner whose desperate search for a sugar mommy takes him to a posh beach resort. Hired to entertain the guests’ children and forced to wear a chicken costume, he doesn’t have much luck with the ladies until he meets a sympathetic cutie from New Jersey. Writer-director Jose Pintor mines broad slapstick and class stereotypes for laughs but also relies heavily on Mata, who comes across like an extremely hostile Chris Tucker. Bring your earplugs.

"An extremely hostile Chris Tucker"? Yikes! Maybe I'll have to see it just to verify that comparison.


40 years ago....

And 41 years ago, his speech on the war in Vietnam:

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