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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chuck Miller: How In The Morning

 
Hey, is this heaven?
No, it's Iowa.
W.P. Kinsella

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 12/9/2013:

Audio recording of Kerouac reading his famous  October in the Railroad Earth:

“Boris, i listened to it, funny i felt like i was god, listening to his tootle, thinking this boy doesn’t know where he is going to end up not even twenty years later dead of alcoholism, yet of course amazingly descriptive and expressive, poor old Jack football player, and roustabout, and proletarian and scholar of heavenly manuscripts, didn’t take up with the gal who invited him" you want to play with my patootie mon?", but dead already and dead again thrown out and trying to get back in they locked him out, so he looked at them thru weird undersea window of distorting features. love chuck”

 
American Poet Chuck Miller, photo credits: John Deason



 Chuck Miller (1939): Founder of the Actualist poetry movement and author of over a dozen collections is one of the last living American writers strongly influenced by the tradition of American socialist writers from the 1930s, most notably his friend and champion, the late Meridel Le Seueur and Jack Conroy; another influence is the Beats from the 50s, most notably Kerouac. He has studied at the UI Writers' Workshop and has traveled and thought English language and American literature through-out the globe, from Slovakia to Kyrgizstan, and from China to Argentina. He's an author of a dozen collections of what he (deliberately) calls "proletarian" poetry, dealing with barren, desolate places, the strangeness of human interaction and the small tragic destines of down-and-out America, whose plight remains largely invisible and out of sight to the powers that be.
 His books include Crossing the Kattegat (2001), How in the Morning  (Spirit That Moves Us Press, 1989),  From Oslo  (Friends Press, 1988), and Harvesters  (Coffee House Press, 1984). His last collection Poems of Protest, Parsecs To Go (2013) includes a lengthy interview with his friend, the Croatian-American fiction writer and translator, Boris Gregoric.

Poem: "In Celebration of Surviving," by Chuck Miller, from Northern Fields: New & Selected Poems (Coffee House Press).
in celebration of surviving when senselessness has pounded you around on the ropes
and you're getting too old to hold out for the future
no work and running out of money,
and then you make a try after something that you know you
    won't get
and this long shot comes through on the stretch
in a photo finish of your heart's trepidation
then for a while
even when the chill factor of these prairie winters puts it at
    fifty below
you're warm and have that old feeling
of being a comer, though belated
in the crazy game of life
standing in the winter night
emptying the garbage and looking at the stars
you realize that although the odds are fantastically against you
when that single January shooting star
flung its wad in the maw of night
it was yours
and though the years are edged with crime and squalor
that second wind, or twenty-third
is coming strong
and for a time
perhaps a very short time
one lives as though in a golden envelope of light


Chuck Reading...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECxtVxplSCs

 Amazon.Com Review of 'Northern Fields' by John Birkbeck (Iowa City, IA):

This review is from: Northern Fields (Paperback)
Plato once said that "Poets utter wise and great things, not understanding what they themselves say." In the case of Chuck Miller, Plato's utterance is proved askew. I have heard countless readings given by this author, and his wise and great utterances are more than apparent. In his recent book, "Northern Fields", appear myriad examples of the worldly wisdom of this poet. His writing, just as does his melodic voice, reaches across time and cultures. As champion of the downtrodden, the down-and out, and those among us who have somehow fallen through the cracks of the modern world, Miller's insights are profound. His book is a great comfort to the spirit, like sitting before the fire on a cold night; a must.

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Chuck spent many years teaching English in China and China and his good Chinese friends hold a very special place in his generous heart —one of his former students and friends is also Rose who visited Iowa City several years ago: 

Chuck and Rose, photo: bg

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Two poems of Miller translated into Croatian language —one is the old anarchist creed of sorts, another —what happens when you have to weather it out in your own car (not a small feat in the bitterly cold Northern Hemisphere...)

hasta la victoria siempre1


hoće li nas se dići iz mrtvih
kao na Sudnji dan
hoće li nas se uvesti u neku veliku odaju punu ljudi
hoćemo li tamo sresti Che Guevaru, Malatestu,
Bakunjina i Rosu Luxemburg
koji će do tada postati sveci i mučenici
revolucije
pružajući svoj blagoslov…
hoćemo li ondje zagrliti stare prijatelje s kojima smo raskinuli sve veze
ljubavnice koje su nas odavno napustile
a naši neprijatelji, što sa njima?
hoćemo li se konačno izmiriti,
ili će oni biti izgnani u nekakav pakao —
i hoće li oni koji su bili ubijeni u borbi
ili mučeni na smrt,
na neki način postati obnovljeni, cjeloviti
postajući dio neke velike duše pravde i jednakosti?

hasta la victoria siempre —
rečeno kao svojevrstan zbogom
a do tada…
vjera, mora se očuvati
kroz različite živote
inkarnacije, razočaranja
otuđenja, gubitke, smrti, staljinizacije, zamrzavanja i otopljavanja
snove, rođenja, prosvjetljenja
hoće li Buda biti ondje
kako bi nas dočekao, ili Krist?
hoće li naše pogreške, zločini i posrtanja biti oprošteni i iskupljeni?
hoćemo li zaplesati s Višnuom, s boginjom Kali, s dervišima
u posljednjoj ekstazi duševnih maštarija ?

hoće li tamo postojati svojevrsni Očenaš za anarhiste
kojeg ćemo izgovoriti svake noći u glas prije no što razlomimo hljeb
hoćemo li prestati jesti meso naših bližnjih stvorenja,
nebeskih i zemaljskih,
u nekoj vrsti konačnog vegetarijanstva?

rečeno kao svojevrstan zbogom
a do tada…



kada živiš u svojem automobilu/when you live in your car

kad živiš u svojem automobilu
umjesto u sobi
izjutra se budiš sporo
čekaš, gledaš dok toplo sunce ne probije tamu.
iskobeljaš se iz skvrčene poze,
i jutro odjednom kao da procvate
širokim poljem punim maslačaka;
žbunje kraj maloga potoka tada nadomješta drveće
svojim granjem i lišćem –
čak i prazan zid jedne zatvorene tvornice
(iza koje smo kradomice parkirani)
ima svojih Zen asocijacija –
poplava uspomena
nečeg što sam onda bio
a čemu se sada samo smiješim…

nemajući krova nad glavom ( toga stropa za misli)
počinješ stvari dok ona još spava
sjedaš na haubu automobila
duh se polagano otvara spram širine neba,
nebeskim prugama, masama niskih oblaka…
zvuci i oblici čine se određeniji
u daljini pjesma autoceste
negdje je pala alatka, zazvečavši od betona
odnekud dolazi delikatno udaranje čekićem, njegov zveket
vrana prelijeće preko tvorničkoga krova —
sa beznadno prodornim krikom punim kletve
uplašili ste jedno drugo —vrana te prva bila spazila
potom je odletjela s nekoliko probranih psovki

sjećam se jedne večeri u sjevernom Ontariju,
nakon niza dugih, praznih pustopoljina
prizor guste tajge posvuda,
jedan sjeverni jelen zaustavio se na rubu šume
potom nestade ga…
počinjalo je arktično razvođe, bili smo već nadomak,
preko još nekoliko polja, pored farmi,
gradići francuskoga govornog područja
gdje žive potomci Francuza, Indijanci,
obje grupe izgledaju toliko turobno i izbezumljeno —
dalje na putu, naišli smo na čudan spomenik:
kip čovjeka, žene i djeteta
držeći se za ruke navrh kamenog pedestala:

U rano jutro Aug. 4, 1963
nedaleko od ovog mjesta tri člana strugarskog i pilarskog sindikata
ubijeni su, dok je sedmoro bilo ranjeno u borbi za prava organiziranog radništva.”

zastali smo —
prerijski vjetar mrsio nam je kosu,
tišina je dihala polagano,
a potom je i ona stala.

U spomen na Josepha Fortiera
rođenog 1928 — Irene Fortier rođena 1938”
pa još jedno ime
brat i sestra? muž i žena?
svo troje iz istoga klana


uglavnom Francuzi uhićeni u bijedi emigrantskog života,
prešavši preko klasnih i etničkih linija, udruženi u bijedi s drugim
imigrantima u zajedničkoj borbi —
ali natpis na engleskom?
zamislite puške kanadske konjičke policije
ili neke druge naoružane udruge —u trenutku dok pucaju
u gomilu nenaoružanih štrajkača —

uvidjajući okrutnost svoga čina —grimizne mrlje,
krvavo prikazanje zamrznuto u vremenu,
poput filma koji nanove kreće, jauci,
žalobna zapomaganja, agonija razbacanih tijela…

noćno sunce sipa svoj blistavi, luminozni sjaj
crne muhe grizu po vratu i glavi
rojeći se nad našim psima
dok se krećemo natrag kroz šumarak
gledajući u napuštene daščare
jedva se nekako drže na okupu —
nasuli smo si litru ulja, nastavili putovanje

jutra dolaze sporije
i jednostavnije kad je čovjek malo sretniji
stvari nisu toliko otuđene, klaustrofobične, izgubljene
tvoja prijateljica još spava
gledaš, preko polja, prema jezeru
magla se lagano diže
prsa se takodjer dižu—
da li pravičnost počinje s ovakvim tračcima
nekih jedva zamišljenih stvari?
ili je to samo zalutao plamičak —koji zatim ponovo
nestaje.
1 “Do konačne pobjede” (Špan.)

Translated from English into Croatian
by Boris Gregoric

All Rights Reserved, please contact for permission to reprint or use in any other manner. Thank You.

1 comment:

Christopher Butters said...

Hi, Boris:

Any idea how I can contact the poet Chuck Miller these days?

He is to my mind one of our great unsung poets. I am a poet who in the past has corresponded with him, help with a radio show here in NYC, and am interestedin recording him reading some of his poetry for the station. Any help would be appreciated.

Chris Butters
chrisbutters2@gmail.com