My name’s Christopher Patton. I’m a poet, translator, essayist, and children’s writer. I earn my bread in the sweat of my brow teaching creative writing and literature. Got three books out there.
- A book of poems called Ox.
- A children’s story in verse called Jack Pine.
- A book of translations from Old English called Curious Masonry.
But I’d so really rather tell you what I’m working on now. One I just finished and am sending round is called Dumuzi. Named for the Sumerian vegetation god whose myth is one of the book’s sources. At the end of the book I describe the project, joking only a little, as an experiment in Cubist interior journalism.
I mean journalism etymologically, the study of the day, the look of the day, dailiness. Too, most of its materials have passed at some point through my journal or mailbox or a friend’s mailbox. By interior I mean moving self-portraiture and by moving I simply mean in motion and by self I mean WTF. By Cubist I mean that as the newspaper coffee cup café table they sit on are seen from all vantages at once – multiple vantages, high and low here and there, and explicit vantages multiply implicitly till the eye becomes space and space is given to see – so here all moments of the myth are so at once, and the mind is time.
Heavy. Here’s Dumuzi feeding some sheep.
It’s got poems made of words
Let no state be
enemy. Wet, dry, agon.
Work an inmost first
Wind blows light about
the life (hemlocks) from
which art is not apart
nor of a part. What a
rock thought to do
was rain and it
out of th
and poems made of bar codes
and other visual poems you can see in my bomber new vispo portfolio.
And what am I working on now. Two projects, each nuttier than the other.
One’s called Overject. From
PROVER BIA DISJECT A. “Thrown over.” The source, a minor mediocre didactic poem in the Exeter Book, a miscellany of Anglo-Saxon verse, one of four storehouses left to us of that literature.
What Dumuzi is to journalism, this one is to translation. I call it “total translation” but it’s not translation by any usual measure.
It’s got diplomatic transcription, homophonic translation, impetuous derivation, vagrant elaboration, unforeseen eruption, foliated translation, spurious illumination, terminal derivation – pretty much anything except the conventional semantic translation you might reasonably expect.
I did a normal translation of the poem, some years ago, didn’t like it. And so this. Here’s a diplomatic transcription of folio (leaf) 88V.
Most of one, in progress, abandoned. (Abandoned because the script isn’t rightly free. Gonna redo it.) Here’s an impetuous derivation of same:
Lots more to see in that kickass vispo portfolio I told you of.
Overject is on hold while I work out the ergonomics of it. Sitting stooped over your desk, eyes six inches from the page you’re illuminating, hours a day for months on end, isn’t good for your cervical spine. Apparently.
The other I’m at work on is SCRO, a multi-modal project that explores masculinity, fatherhood and sonship, what loss and meaning are. To start, I take a memoiristic text – handwritten journal pages cued by a recent visit to my father – and distress and distort them on my office photocopier. For instance, this
The text becomes less verbal and more visual. Less legible and more beautiful. As one sort of meaning recedes, another sort steps forward, or I hope so. It’s me letting go, as he goes, of what my father was to me before.
The images are themselves just raw material for further work. The project is much in flux, but right now I imagine at least two instances, one material, a physical scroll, and one ethereal, a gallery installation. The making of the mockup of the scroll looked like this:
A test toward the video installation looks like this:
Lots more to be seen in – did I mention this yet? – my new vispo portfolio.
Why SCRO? Because scroll, truncated. Also escrow, same – the poem is rooted in my house, which my father made it possible for me to buy, by cosigning the loan. The one that eluded me for a few days was scrotum – in case I needed confirmation I was on the terrain of father and son, and brotherhood too, what being a man means, in this day.
Okay so I said there’d be some me here. Here’s a pic of same. Some years old but yes I’m still just that good looking.
Kidding, I was never that good looking. The blog as a whole is indebted to this book. And, publications and awards and such here. And reviews of my work here. Enjoy! Or, better, go make your own demotic angelic word pics. Good, bad, who the eff cares. Give your loves away.