Marion Kimes is a pale, near frail-appearing FIREBRAND of a poet, Red Sky's perdurable mavourneen/doyenne. On the muses/Manifest video, she plays a deceptively simple self-accompanying drum pattern, her voice slowly building to an operatic crescendo that brought tears to my eyes upon a recent re-viewing/re-auditing. And yet her nine muses c-bk, CROWS' EYES. of multiplication and light., is taut with elegant restraint. Her whole ploy is black print on whitest glossy paper, so that the text, focused as it is on every least nuance of her compact with light itself, has nowhere a design to amplify its aetheric distract, only that white, valenced by that black. Extra-text, her wrapping of the book is very, very meant, with a binding solution as witty as the twinkle in her Texas, far-horizon eyes, and a cover lay-out as proclamatory as the muted appointments of a sanctuary. This book is perhaps the highpoint gracenote of the entire nine muses list. As ever, it is too difficult to choose, so allow this one favorite, its barefoot joy, of lesser delights conflating the grand design after all: the last sparkler "stitched among stars" -Jeanette Winterson three in each hand - my brother, his friend. tumbling from hiding, "give me that one!" I beg. on the run reaching for the feared-and-loved, wildly I dance away with the one sparkler left a child offers a hand again & again trust that rapid raucous light unfolds born to a drum's call some lean back, they hesitate yet they have to join-in when drums begin. palming the drumskins, eyes glitter - like children's eyes clutching the very last sparkler drawing lit circles in air, hearts pound a sparkler's pinpoints prickle the skin eyes dance laughter's far-flungs rumble & rip soul music & no plan untethered free-fall excitement both lungs hang up words rise & the heart leaps (we know that drum!) always barefoot, "stitched among stars" light's concordant laughter lit. On the performative case when margareta first arrived in Seattle was the poets' collective previously alluded to, the Red Sky Poetry Theater, founded several years earlier by Cajun congas poet Don Wilsun. Red Sky was multi-involved in the public poetry life of Seattle: they maintained a weekly open reading series in addition to mounting special poetry events. For many years, Sky published the yearly literary anthology for Seattle's community- wide Labor Day shebang, the renowned Bumbershoot Arts Festival; additionally, free spirit poet Roberto Valenza's public performance poetry pachangas, the inimicable Alternative To Loud Boats street fests, could not have continued their years-long August runs without Sky's energy & backing. Occasionally, poets in the Red Sky family also issued self-published books under the Red Sky imprint, as was the case with Mr Wilsun's own first book, ORCAS ISLAND, published in 1980. Significantly, Mr Wilsun would issue two books in the 90's under the nine muses imprint: SWEET SKIN (1993), and the 1996 chapbook FROG LEGS (LES CUISSES de CRAPEAU). Over the years, mainstay Red Sky operatives, such as the afore-considered Marion Kimes and Michael Hureaux, were also to publish via nine muses. The very fact that the founder of the precedant collective subsequently published with the come-lately collective is instructive, for not only was Seattle graced with two simultaneously active public poetry collectives over this period of time, but the two organizations acted in symbiotic concert to form a notably fertile, non-competitive synergy. When nine muses, in 1989, evolved into video documentation (under an offspring strategy it called nine muses mystery theatre, which, as braintrust-in-thrall to video-grapher James Markham, spawned Manifest Arts Videos) much of what its cams documented had to do with the poets and events of Red Sky: the work of Red Sky associates such as Charlie Burks, Louise Dovell, Martina Goodin (whose own earlier video work in Seattle also served as inspiration for margareta's project), Bill Shively, Carletta Wilson, Marion Kimes, Michael Hureaux, and David Lloyd Whited, are among some 16 Seattle performers preserved in the nine muses/Manifest Arts video archives, which videos were originally aired on Seattle public television. Whereas nine muses nudged Red Sky towards the arts of book design & videographic documentation, the Sky learned not only was it not alone, it had a dynamic and inspiring partner. The nine muses/Manifest Arts video project has great historical value, given that these are the poets who were the public performance standard bearers at a crucial time in the city's inexorable torque toward hyper-clogged gleaming Northwest Coast money-bub super behemoth status. What is that city today? What were its poets singing a scant ten years ago? The nine muses/Manifest Arts videos record the poets both in conversation with the camera and in performance modes. The styles of presentation depart from there, each one as odd, as acute, as are the books. See poet Charlie Burks' head lift slowly from the glassy surface of the waters-- he's wearing sunglasses, he delivers a poem, his head slowly sinks back under those waters. Again, you laugh till tears come, and you know you've been afforded an image of Seattle poetry that might not come again. So it went-- So it goes.
************By 1992, nine muses was actively reaching past the gravitational field of Seattle proper, even as the collective maintained a principal and ongoing active linkage to that city. And although it is terribly unfair to only hint at what margareta is finding south of the Sound and west of the Cascades, here following is a series of quotes from several of her further-flung seekers & provocateurs: 1992 was the year Carol Barth (CA/WA, in transit, to Montana) came aboard with the self-illustrated peach-colored chapbook, "A WHITE HUMMINGBIRD." Typical to nine muses running concerns with holy landscape & light, these lean, lucid lines occur in her poem, "THE LACEMAKER"... iii In this valley of death An eternal silence Bathes the Panamints In ethereal pastel. Now and again the cry of a raven - After - the silence hums. A single rock sings arias Of ochre and turquoise And the vermillion blazes, Glows, and dims To the inky violet dome Thick with stars and myth - In 1994 came Kentucky resident Josef Knoepfler's poet-afoot-in- the-Orient chapbook, CHINA POEMS, which includes ten short poems (some very short, as in, say, the three lines of "THE HAN"... "In a single line thin as thread the Han can read his history: // Heavy the finest web: // Heavy the hand, heavy the heart.") And I found myself haunted, oddly enough, by images of West African mmigrant peddlars on 14th Street in Manhattan when Knoepfler, a native New Yorker, recorded a vision from one of his walks on the other side of the world:
Only four lines out of the book's longest poem, a mere convenient lifting from a 38-line meditation on the Chairman, "SHAO SHAN", in which dead-gone Mao's continuing influence is found out to be grey, bloated, shabby. Yet the eerie echoing resonance of those long o sounds is enough to effect a priority revolve rather like a treadmill. Knoepfler's China overwhems minutely, & in just brevity.
*1995 saw the publication of Gary David's masterful "TIERRA ZIA", already mentioned. And in 1997, editor/publisher poet dan raphael of Portland, Oregon, a word-rapt visional spellbinder, calmed his trademark witty overload just enough to spark with uniquely raphaelean scathe thru the "senselessness // of what can't benamed or resisted." dan remains restless & wary, full of hope yet paranoid as all get-out in his c-bk, "trees through the road." Here are the last lines of the book's finale, a rich warning of a poem entitled "set a name=emanates" which carries this quote-dedication snippet from the fugs, a heroic poets' band from the 60's, "beware the man not moved by sound" ... capitalism's precarious geometry requires no questions, requires internal confusion, that only professionals sing and dance, that a name --soon to be a non-mathematical number-- is forever, is legally sanctioned. as life can be copyrighted, so can names, words, ideas; energy is owned by those who steal it from rivers, coal and atoms in the name of progress in the name of democracy in genesis, god didn't bother to name things-- she knew them, was intermingled with her works. we label jars in case we forget, for the benefit of others who are sent to the larder: whatchu makin? whatchu call that? whose names do i whisper or scream in peaks of darkest terror? in my dreams, no one has names no one talks much-- things just happen Ah but, enough & too much histo-detailia & clumsy critique doth bog the tale. E-mail margareta, write to her, phone her up: nine muses is a still viable, still evolving & utterly self- cognizant collective (as is, incidentally, the Red Sky Poetry Theater). Forsooth, each & every poet is a secret in their community. And the calling of attention to their being in the ville is dangerous work, often because the very activity of calling that attention-to shines a mutating light on a fertility that is always contingent and mycelial, a fertility nowhere guaranteed. We whisper to one another of the existence of these rare birds for good reason: were we to raise our voices too loudly on their behalf, the manifold vulgarities of the epoch might well turn them into star system cult figures, bought-off folk, shills or worse, hungry wee peddlars of canard and anecdote, fable and faux-flux flummox & beggar. This is one reason a small-scale collective of poets might be crucial in our time: would that the poets hold the throttle mutually, would that they check and balance one another with volunteer alacrity, that they themselves take responsibility both for each others humility and for each others' tending to the mycelial & to the contingent, which intangibles comprise the living stuff of actual day to day poets' practice. Stay humble, viable, on task, and utterly unapolo- getic, unbeholden. Alive as secrets, their pursuit of the sacred is yet protected and honored. And if that collective goes about its work in the creative mines of a city that worries odd & hoary quo- tients of greatness, so much the better: an articulated substrate is demonstrated, a sublime complaint is present and accounting. Whatever greatness accrues will come frisked, not celebrated, by Song. Yea, and margareta waterman, small-scale to an infinitely delicious degree, is nothing if not frisky. In her, the town had another conscience, and the poets of the town had a hungry new labor-intensive champion: nine muses books, in Seattle over the course of the late-80's to mid-90's, was doing Song's unsung deed with dispatch, calling attention to the existence of an actual Sacred. The evidence ongoes: seek said secrets for yourselves . . . To conclude this overview, a paragraph quoted from the 1997 nine muses c-bk, "THE DEMON IN THE BENCH," a prose work written & illustrated by Jean Ferner(CA). Let the bench & the vision it contains project nine muses' muse: "She sidles up to the bench, trying to avoid looking at the monster, yet unable to keep from obliquely glancing at it. It has scared her from the moment she first saw it, this monster in the bench. So real, it seemed to her, that she could see it moving. Sometimes it stretched. Sometimes it looked right at her and grinned. Several times now, she had thought that it might be gaining on the little running man. Its out-stretched hand could easily grasp not only his heel but his ankle. Yet, it held off, perhaps playing with its victim. Finally, as her hands clutch the bow and attempt to wrench it from Amos's fist, she looks directly at it. The monster is, indeed, moving. One of its arms cradles Amos's head. The other has reached under his knees. The monster is holding Amos as if he were a baby. And then, it looks at her over Amos's shoulder. A look of love. It is not a monster at all, she thinks. It is the magician's mother. A huge, strange mother who lives in the bench. The bow comes loose, and the child holds it to her chest. The huge mother nods, shuts her eyes, sleeps. It's only a carving, the child thinks. ************ contact & list information nine muses books nine muses mystery theatre 3541 kent creek road winston oregon 97496 541-679-6674 firstname.lastname@example.org nine muses publications/productions 1987- 1999books by 11 writers (titles listed below): Carol Barth, Gary David, Jean Ferner, Martina Goodin, Michael Hureaux, Marion Kimes, Josef Knoepfler, dan raphael, Roberto Valenza, margareta waterman, Don Wilsun 2 poetry broadsides: Marion Kimes, margareta waterman 84 postcards in 2 sets, 21 poets: Jim Andrews, Carol Barth, John Berry, Gary David, Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid, Noel Franklin, Michael Hureaux, Paul Hunter, Marion Kimes, Josef Knoepfler, Barbara La Morticella, Martha Linehan, Ezra Mark, Carla Perry, Steve Potter, Robin Schultz, Roberto Valenza, Nico Vassilakis, margareta waterman, David Lloyd Whited, Carletta Wilson 2 audio cassettes of performed poetry & music: Willie Smith, Don Wilsun 15 1/2-hour poetryvideos, full feature of 15 of Seattle's best at the turn of the 90's: Charlie Burks, Louise Dovell, Martina Goodin, Michael Hureaux, Marion Kimes, Gretchen Matilla, Tom Prince, Judith Roche, Robbo, Donna Sandstrom, Bill Shively, Wally Shoup, margareta waterman, David Lloyd Whited, Carletta Wilson, and Theresa Clark ************Carol Barth: A White Hummingbird Gary David: Tierra Zia Jean Ferner: the demon in the bench Martina Goodin: An Ordinary Housewife Michael Hureaux: black dog blues hallelucinations fool moon risin Marion Kimes: Crow's Eyes. of multiplication and light Josef Knoepfler: China Poems dan raphael: trees through the road Roberto Valenza: poems for the glancing eye maha kala in the center precious umbrella margareta waterman: the seed of osiris eleusinian theatre red sky sketches moon riding backwards cracked crystal egyptian night walkin' occam's razor lady orpheus astarte calling clytemnestra some south american colors five songs from the primordial alphabet tara's consort Don Wilsun: Sweet Skin Frog Legs (LES CUISSES de RAPEAU) (author's credit: Ralph La Charity is the poet/percussionist who, since 1986, has edited & published the monthly samizdat poets' magazine, W'ORCs/ALOUD ALLOWED, based thru the years in Europe, Texas, &, currently, southwestermost Ohio. He is the author of the legendary lost Seattle ur-text, SEATTICUS NIGHT, among many other titles. As a performer, his precise incantatory fire is but one more whispered Amerishan secret, loose across America's abundant hide.)