Friday, January 16, 2009

Bagel Bard Pam Rosenblatt's "On How to Read The Manual" Reviewed



ON HOW TO READ THE MANUAL
By Pam Rosenblatt
2009; 26pp; Pa; Ibbetson Street Press,
25 School Street, Somerville, MA 02143
$7.
http://ibbetsonpress.com
to order http://lulu.com/ibbetsonpress


What we have is a poeticized study of how to existentialistically understand reality: paintings, books, friends, lovers, TV, even sandwiches, cats, dogs and, by extension, anything and everything that surrounds us. And ironically, for all its non-poetic-game-playing simplicity, the poetry itself is a real psychic-door opener: “Harris, you asked, How do you read a painting?..../ Look wide-eyed at the work./Close your eyes and open them,/And hope what you see and derive/Are what the artist wants our mind’s eye/To see and derive Let the images/Abstract, realistic, surrealistic/Take meaning in your eyes....//A smile between you and the canvus,/As though you’re best friends,/Understanding each other, /Understanding that the artist/Allowed this to happen....” (“On How to Read a Painting,” pp. 10-11).
Rosenblatt is a veritable reality-transformer, taking the ambiguous and difficult, the almost-impossible, and giving you some rule-games to play to turn everything into acceptably understandable.
The core-secret is passivity, getting rid of all the usual babblings and scrabblings of the psyche that interfere with direct perception, and allowing The Real is stream in on your inner psyche: “View view stars stars stars/In the night’s sky sky/Sky and imagine the amount/ Of time time time it takes/For you to view that star/That may have exploded/Years years years before.../Time/is time...until time is gone/Is gone like youth like seasons/Like nature...” (“On How to Read Time,” pp.3-4.).