New Love: Christopher Robinson

23 Sep

As I drank my coffee Sunday (yesterday) morning and skimmed through online journal world, I happened to return to Jellyfish issue 9. A month or so ago, I read the poems by the poets who I was familiar with, but skipped over the names with whom I was unfamiliar. I’m glad that I came back to the issue because it provided me with the opportunity to read, for the first time, the poems of Christopher Robinson.

The most recent issue of Jellyfish contains (part of?) a series of poems by Robinson, titled “Air Become Sinewed.” Before reading the poems, I scrolled down screen to read his bio; while I was at the bottom of the page, I also read the final lines of the last excerpt, and they totally blew me away. Here they are:

Light, how

        does it know

to bend around
        what’s massive
why should it


Where had I heard this voice before? After considering the passage for a few moments, I remembered: Lorine Niedecker’s “My Friend Tree,” which reads in its entirety:

My friend tree
I sawed you down
but I must attend
an older friend
the sun

Both poems address an element of the natural world (the former indirectly, the latter directly); but, more interestingly for me, the rhythm and tone of Robinson’s poem seems to echo or resonate with the Niedecker poem in way that I’m still thinking through. Either way, it’s a gorgeous conclusion to a wonderful set of poems.

Another moment in the “Air Become Sinewed” series that distinguished itself for me was the second section of the first iteration. It reads:

The plan is simple


to be creatures that consume
excrete, wait
to be fed

I call you
you call me
and in this way
we build a precarious temple

The opening phrase “The plan is” recalls, for me, Creeley’s “The Plan is the Body.” While Creeley confuses and manipulates the body through a series of repetitions and linguistic recombinations, Robinson acknowledges corporeal confusions more directly when he writes that we, as “creatures,” are: “dumbfounded / blindfolded / ajar.”

I highly suggest checking these poems out. Also, I’m off search-engines until mid-to-late April 2014, so if anyone has any links to more of Robinson’s poems online, please post them in the comments section.

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