Monday, January 31, 2011

John Levy: A Mind’s Cargo Shifting


Interspersed lately with my readings from the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, I’ve been enjoying daily doses from John Levy’s new book, A Mind’s Cargo Shifting, just out in January from First Intensity Press. Levy, a fine poet and lover of words if there ever was one, continues his quest for clarity in a humorous* vein, this time in gentle “fictions” and “definitions” in which Sterne meets Bierce and both spill their coffee only to turn around and cipher the stains.

I especially like “Sponges and Sieves” — probably because that’s the piece I just finished reading. The adventure begins thus:

Is the opposite of a sponge a sieve? Not a living sponge, immersed in water, but a dead or manufactured sponge. Both a sieve and a sponge are solid masses that bring together holes. Sponges and sieves are anthologies of holes.

It ends with this poignant scenario from an imagined television series that, even in its pilot, leaves “SpongeBob SquarePants” high and dry. “CharlieSievers” is about a sieve who lives in a kitchen in a space shuttle and whose best friend is Sally, a ladle:

CharlieSievers is a fatalist. But, nevertheless, he loves Sally (platonically) for her generosity, her incredible knowledge of astronomy, and her wide lovely face. CharlieSievers and Sally are chained to the kitchen counter because there is no gravity and they float, often near the thick window to the stars, when they engage in their comic dialogues and their adventures with the other inhabitants of the kitchen. Chained near them is Lenore, an ice cream scoop, who tends to wobble off to the side. It’s Lenore who almost always alerts CharlieSievers and Sally to each episode’s crisis.

But of course I won’t give away the actual pilot, because there’s big money at stake. The last thing I need now is a lawsuit — not because I have anything of value to take, but because it will cut into my precious reading time.

Thanks, John.

* But not always, and that is the beauty of it.

6 comments:

Two Tigers said...

Thanks for the introduction to this previously unknown to me whimsical and wonderful writer! Must add to my reading list, which will soon resemble the paper rolls of Kerouac and Proust. Did I say thank you? Damn you, too. But in a gentle comic sort of way, like a cartoon character sputtering "tarnation!" or whoever first said "why I oughta!"

William Michaelian said...

Gabriella, your damning thanks feels to me like a very special award.

Paper rolls are in the manuscript aisle.

vazambam said...

Damn you too, you rascal! While you've been enjoying John's book every day, I've been in limbo waiting for it every day. Be that as it may, thanks for a preview of another book from a poet more people should be aware of.

William Michaelian said...

Curses! — appreciated again! And right back at you, since without you I might never have had the pleasure of knowing John and holding his books in my hands.

Woman in a Window said...

Reminds me a little of Tom Robbins from the brief intro. I hope there's plenty of opportunity for these guys to get unhinged and then rightdowndirty:)

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

Ah. Heh. Huh? Hmmm....