Remembering Paul Squires

It was this week last year that Paul Squires, that great poet from Australia, died at the still young age of 46.  It’s hard having to remember this fact, that Paul is no longer in this world.  However, his poetry still lives at the site he created Gingatao.   And what can be said now in remembrance?

“And feels his forehead touch the emptied sky/Where all antinomies flood into light”  — Irving Layton

“About him the air felt sweet with singing/Heard waves beat on the indestructible core” –Vernon Watkins

I had started reading poetry again in the wake of Paul’s appearance in my life.  He became my teacher.  I am still his student after his passing.

… And though you may close this book forever and never read another word, wordless the world will come to you and reveal itself to you and there is no other proof that you exist but this, that you are beloved of the earth and the creatures around you, insects and stars are quietly harmonising with your breath and the rhythm of the ocean enlivens us all….  Click on these words and read the whole amazing thing he says.

I am still his student and would that I could make others students also — or readers or friends — in a friendship across time and space.  Paul is among the great poets now.  Truly he is among them.

The Koi Poetic

Australian poet and blogger friend Gabrielle Bryden has written a poem about my koi and remembers our mutual friend the late Paul Squires in whose poetry magic got caught using words.  I feel very honored to have my koi swim in a poem, and when I tell the koi they will be splashing.  Read it, experience it,  here.

Comportment, compotier

You cannot imagine what a thrill it was, the day I found my blue compotier.  I had loved Pierre Bonnard’s compotiers, scattered here and there through various paintings, sometimes filling a subordinate role, sometimes occupying center stage.  It is completely irrational to love an inanimate object that way, even if it is made of blue glass and has little tear-drop patterns around its roller-coaster-wavering rim.  The way that things are colored through it!  The way it stands so elegant and tall.  Crazy, perhaps, but Bonnard was crazy first and infected my brain through his pictures.

Last night I wasn’t sleepy.  So I stayed up with my compotier and made a series of drawings.  Here are the “apples of my eyes.”  After making the first, I was just getting warmed up, and I pulled out another sheet to sing another silent verse.  The second is a lot like the first.  I must have really believed what I drew since the two agree in many parts. 

For the third go around, nearing Three O’Clock in the Morning, I was ready for a little change of pace. 

A little off topic, but evidently there’s no American way of saying “compotier.”  American’s have to do it in as French a manner as they can manage.  As an Anglo word, the Brit’s have it all wrapped up.  [If you click on the little UK flag at the link, you’ll hear the British pronunciation.  Do note, that there’s no little American flag.  And the Australians and the Canadians …?  What they do with this word is anybody’s guess.  Is there an Australian in the house?]

Anyway,  I got some nice detail photos of the rim shot moments (hat tip to the late great Paul Squires of Gingatao).

I dare you to find a fish in there.  (Regular readers realize that I haven’t gone totally batty.”

No koi, just apples!

And after that it was to bed!  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

It’s already tomorrow in Australia

Orchids for the Orchid Room.  November 19, 2010 would have been the 47th birthday of the great Australian poet Paul Squires who left us so suddenly in July of this year.  The poem below revels in the interconnected, bloggy-thingyness of Paul’s creativity:  words, links, sounds, performance.  Vintage Paul.  Gingatao.

Australian sentences #who’s counting

December 7, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 19 Comments
Tags: , , ,
If I want to I shall write a life-times worth of poems about dogs and love, frogs and fish and how amazingly beautiful my wife is. In Australian pubs we used to turn the empty glass upside down and slam it on the bar. In the bad old days, that was, now of course we politely request a quick phone call to our lawyer.

It’s a hard life being famous and poor, I tell ya.

READ the rest here.
(this piece has been podcast here, with all the linked poems)

My Guest Spot at Gabrielle Bryden’s

As some readers have already discovered, those who popped over for a squiz, I was a guest blogger at Gabrielle Bryden’s Blog.  Gabrielle is the Australian poet I met via the confluence of Paul Squires’s poetry at Gingatao and Chinese silky chickens and hamster jealousies too complex to relate here.  Suffice it to say, I’m delighted to be featured there.  And the Koi are delighted as well.  The hamster, on the other hand, now has something new for her jealousy.

Now that my pictures are getting to be better known, I guess it’s just a matter of time.  I think I’ll sit a while and wait to see if the Museum of Modern Art calls.

black lines and the white of the paper

I’ve thought sometimes that I ought to write a whole post in “tags,” or to put it another way, I’ve thought that writing the tags that are supposed to gain you traffic sometimes turns into an exercise in automatic writing or in free association.  Sometimes it happens that I like my tags as well as the post and secretly hope that others will notice them.  Paul Squires, that great Australian poet, was a great connoisseur of tags.

You can draw in a haphazard way, thinking idles line-thoughts to yourself, drawing  reflexively.  You can dream in line or can, daydreaming, draw things that are not there, but are there.  Wool-gathering the velvet ink path, scribbling, doodling, improvising a black line riff in a minor key (whose sadness is permanently mysterious) (Paul smiles).  Watching the beauty of the black ink line as it flows away from the pen nib and seeing the white of the paper grow luminious as lines create dark.  The smoothness of the paper, the fineness of turning pages, the simpleness of handling the pages of book.

dancing to wild open music

I started another koi pond at the secret bunker studio.  This one is darker from the dark blue of the paper on which it’s drawn.  In the past I have sometimes used lines from poetry as titles for pictures.  I decided to use lines from Paul Squires‘s poems for the titles of the koi pictures as a remembrance of this great poet whose untimely death occurred on July 27th of this year.

The title for this picture “dancing to wild open music” comes from a line on page 33 of the first edition of The Puzzle Box.

These dance to music that only fish can hear.

Puzzling over the Box and finding some enlightenment

Reading parts of The Puzzle Box again. Wish I could have read with this sort of understanding while Paul Squires, the poet of Gingatao, was still living.  Read just now the Tiger Meditation near the end.  I had felt something very similar only it was the spider in the web waiting in poised stillness that I felt, a spider that would always be waiting, alway just before the moment it seizes the bug, the moment just prior.   Strange too it was the spider because I’m afraid of them, yet that’s where I saw it most clearly — in the beautiful orb of the spider (and her descendants) that have built on the porch summer after summer. 

The Tiger Meditation

One night when I was becoming increasingly frustrated with a Scott Joplin waltz that just wouldn’t swing she appeared beside the piano having just despatched some troublemaker and told me this story.  I went in search of the earliest religious rite that is still actively practised and I came across this along the way.  Imagine you are the top predator in your area, in this case , a tiger.  But you are not a hungry, angry tiger.  You are a satisfied, content tiger asleep, yet tiger-like, still somehow alert.  Asleep in a tree on a branch which overlooks the only path to the only water for miles around and it is a hot, dry afternoon.  Asleep but aware, alert for the first trace of scent or snap of twig, the first vibration of the approaching, thirsty weary creature in need of a cool drink.  And in that moment just before the first trace, immediately prior to the first vibration and alive to its inevitability, in that moment remaining.  And looked back over her shoulder as she swung and waltzed away.

— Paul Squires, The Puzzle Box

The spider’s web is the work of art or is the fabric of consciousness, is the sense of the self existing, having identity, knowing oneself as an “I” — or as Paul might say an i.

I understood it prosaically, but got the message too — and from the source (was the spider taught me).  Just a different animal.

When your eye focuses on the web, the world beyond and around it is blurry.  When your eyes are focused on the world, you miss seeing the web with the spider in it.

The tiger is a strong meditation, the spider a small one — abstract, theoretically, without emotion, more naturally machine-like, emptier, compact, quick, easy to disappear, ultimately spiders hide and are hidden, they are more anonymous, small black or bright ball with legs, with most spiders the venon is harmless.

Paul was more a tiger, whereas I have wanted to weave and hide unseen, in invisible orb web, but sticky and catches things, flying things, winged flying things.

First and Last Greetings

The last thing Paul Squires wrote at my blog post Swimming in the adjoining ponds of imagination (written on July 15, 2010) was this:  

More koi Jazz! A long and gorgeous trilling right hand cascade down the keyboard, Oscar Peterson style, all done in colour and movement! Life is a koi pond indeed!

The first thing he ever wrote at a post called Paint for Painting’s Sake (June 16, 2008) was this:

I don’t know nearly enough about the practice of painting, nothing actually, being a writer, but reading your posts back this far and looking at your work had really helped me understand what’s going in a painter’s mind. I don’t think it’s pretentious at all, revealing and fascinating in fact, especially the one about the abstract which really made it clearer in my mind what that was all about and related in a way to my writing. So thanks.

He wrote stuff like this — all over the internet — encouraging others to excel at art (in the broadest sense of the word).  His role as lifter of spirits is one that all those of us who knew him should remember always — and practice in his absence, this lovely humane kindness.