Friday, November 12, 2010

Syrinx and Systole, Guest Author Matthew Remski Introduces his New Book of Poetry

(Syrinx 2, Marion Dunleavy)
"She will recede with each increment of
light, with each syllable you find in your throat like a cave
painting. The reverberation in the bark is the stutter of your
hand letting her go.
The choir of earth. Over the reeds, the long exhale of don’t
know anything. The shiver that cracks the spine as more
apples blossom, turn red, turn cider, turn vinegar, turn ash." 
(from Syrinx and Systole, Matthew Remski)

M ost of you know Matthew Remski as co-director of Yoga Festival Toronto, an Ayurvedic Health Educator and Practitioner, and adjunct faculty member for many Yoga Teacher Training Programmes in Toronto. Many people are also familiar with the Matthew Remski, who, along with fellow yogi and author, Scott Petrie, co-authored the wildly imaginative and iconoclastic text on re-embodying yoga, entitled Yoga 2.0. But perhaps you are not aware that he has also published several novels, and founded Scream in High Park, a literary festival that has since grown into the 2-week-long crowning event of alternative Canadian literature. Now, on the heels of unleashing Yoga 2.0, Matthew will be releasing his first book of poetry in fifteen years. A book launch will be held at the Supermarket (in Toronto's Kensington Market) on Tuesday, November 16 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm. 

I asked Matthew if he would like to contribute a piece of writing about the launch of his new book, and he responded,
 "Sure. should it be manifesto-style?"
 And Matthew, oracular and enigmatic, offered us this arrangement of words.
(The Unknown Potter, Arthur Boyd)

on launching syrinx
by matthew remski

the pages are lined with consciousness and birdsong, orality and aurality, the oscillation of separateness and communion, space and its filling, the dissociation of seeking, the pervasion of being found, loving the identity-trauma of learning.  learning as terrible pleasure, learning as food.  learning is food, so we are fed by what we have yet to know.

content is paramount: form serves it like a dish serves food.  sleep washes the dishes.

the structure of this book saddens.  not because of its sentiment, which chirrs and clicks between the oriole and the occipital.  not because it is this book, as opposed to any other, it is sad because as a collection of meditations it does not like the prison of a book generally.  it cannot understand the mathematics of a print run, why its words cannot change.  it flutters confused and now resigned against the papers, against the spine.

how will i give it to the listener in a way that makes the pages become part of her body?  i must bring sweets for her to eat.

pronunciation of the title is a problem.  many say: SIGH-rinx and SIGH-stoal.  this means you have to take me home and poke me in the middle of the night to hear me purr SEEE-rrrranx and sissstolEEEE.  sounds like the title of a long lost wagner opera.  hopefully a short one and with fewer instruments.  the mind enjoys the single read.

i’m preparing to release a special edition of the book, written in turmeric.  good to purify the liver and stain the bedclothes in a nimbus around the sleeping form.  it would make our adulteries obvious.

i will be asked why the majority of pages in this book have no line breaks.  firstly, let’s conserve paper.  secondly, the metrics and line lengths of older verse were mnemonic tools meant to support clear oral recitation, typically of a narrative.  unless the book is to be memorized and recited like beowolf, we can do without the memory aid which without function and purpose simply gums up the flow of the text.  like gristle in meat, it is the vestige of a connective purpose.  you and the hour of your silent reading are now the connective tissue of poetry.  rhythms broken by artificial lines cease to dialogue with your heartbeat and the airflow of your upper room.

as the reading of poetry became silent and private, abstracted into the wind of internal space, oral and rhythmic cues faded from necessary embodiment.  while there are many exceptions, now:

most line


(and sculptural indentations for pregnant


seem to cover the modern poet’s


made bare by doubt, so like an ass

crack, poetry bifurcates into

a dance of content and     lack, with     lack

filling the margins in various

lengths that mirror     lack, and whatever words

stitched into lines

the poet can force himself to

stammer and         scratch

my opinion is that the internal mind of silent writing and reading flows in cascades that defy the overwrought sculpturing of free verse.  the paragraph is the mind’s most natural container, a bowl we assume will overflow and even break.  the language of contemplation, fluid and aflame, does not crystallize itself in dangling visual sculptures unless precious doubt is the writerly choice being made.  the visual sculpture of line breaks and emphatic indentations allows people in poetic mode to perhaps too easily make an aesthetic virtue out of hesitation.  we get it already: we’re unsure how to move forward, or rather

we’re unsure

how to

move         forward

so, breaking the line break is an assertion of getting on with it, plasma, blood, and muscle.  yes we sensitive souls have been taught to offer our reflections meekly.  but if poetry is to be more than private therapy that you sometimes get a government grant to share with others in a vanishing radius of cultural importance, vigour and passion must overflow: bursting any artificial line break, any etiquette of readings, the reticence of ‘it’s personal’, the shrug of your shoulders when you’re asked what you do.  our lectern of disastrous necessity waits: you speak for the trees, and for the bare nerve of human consciousness, for non-human languages, for post-human vistas, for aggressive dignity.  our forebears crafted public policy from sentiments distilled from seasons.  can we afford to remain so hidden?  or is hiding easier?

i wrote on the pages of SEEE-rrrranx and sissstolEEEE between 4 and 5:30 in the morning, after chanting mantras i can’t understand.  the time is called brahma muhurta to us indiaphiles: the hour of expansion.  the pages and the poems on them have no titles because before language the hour and the day lack names of course.  which mornings?  can’t remember.  4 to 5:30am is not a date and time, but a space.  every morning has been the same: a door opens to reveal a forest of consciousness both vast and common, and i hallucinate dialogue with another part of myself: a birder of the mind.

this book and its launch is where many of my lives come together.  dropout writer and pomo pujari.  cynic and devotee.  emotional trainwreck and therapist.  misanthrope and community organizer.  infant sanskritist and fatigued derridean.  dreamer and empiricist.  astrologer and cultural theorist.  these folks have never met, so I’ve booked appointments with a jungian-gestalt-existentialist to help make formal introductions.  he told me to bring a needle to sew my shadows back together, and then back on.

the book is already up on amazon, but the amazon robot has spelt the title wrong and reprinted my bio from 10 years ago.  it says i live in Vermont, which i do, somewhere in my heart.  it also says that i have a masters in theology which is an untruth that an earlier publisher somehow invented, innocently i’m sure, and which i never corrected.  i quite like the idea of lying about being a master of theology, because i suspect that if i were a master of theology, i’d be lying about everything else.  this way i can be relatively honest.  as in: i dropped out of college three times and joined two kundalini cults.

i haven’t published poetry in 15 years.  this has relieved me of the banal ordeal of identifying myself as a poet.

a robot from the amazon misspelled my title.  syrinx is the voice-box of a songbird.

about launching: there is typically much alcohol, leading to weaving flight.  in my other life in ayurveda, sour taste is governed by venus, who also rules poetry and seduction.  to balance, i should bring sweet to inspire, salt to dissolve, pungent to raze, bitter to pierce and grieve, astringent to dry up and make vanish. 

at my last launch smoking in these bars was legal.  the smoke curled upwards, making this breath we share, medium of birdflight, visible.  i remember it took about 9 minutes to smoke a cigarette.  now your faces light up, about every 9 minutes, with the glow of cell phones.  it’s quieter without the clack and chiff and clack of the zippo.  there are messages from home beaming into your hands, or into pockets beside your heart or genitals, from a child, from a lover.  the fireflash of years ago has gone blue.  a tweet in the birdless night.

systole is the pulse that returns blood to the heart.  sibilance ends many birdsongs, and shivers up the spines.
 • Syrinx and Systole by Matthew Remski launches Tuesday, November 16 · 7-9pm
at Supermarket in Kensington
268 augusta ave. toronto
For more information: Quattro Books

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