Thursday, April 22, 2010

Artie Gold

Wrote a piece on Artie for the Globe and Mail "In Other Words" book-blog. Will be appearing online shortly.

“Where are the lids? The lids to everything?”
Artie Gold, before ROMANTIC WORDS

It is no coincidence to me that Artie Gold, Montreal poet, died on Valentine’s Day, 2007. His poems, written in Montreal where he lived for 30 years, wreak havoc in the heart. Suffering from recurrent lung deficiency, it is no surprise that the physical enclosure of solitude the disease eventually required of him may have, as a point of necessity, afforded him the state of habitual transcendence. To the moon, to the heart—always the traveler. Reading through Artie’s poetry might lead you to believe a number of things about him: that poetry sometimes pays the rent; that the “pure lyric beauty of the wave” breaks the borders of “inside/outside”; that one might believe love is simply met, “I can win you with a coke” or that it is not at all effortless, rather “plies deep… waylaid, it had a habit of suddenly throwing down / its basket of roses and running… too many times love has occurred, reared its beautiful head.” The magnetism of Fort Poetry, as he called it, held him—a field where he could position the external world as fulcrum to his heart, shifting and mellowing glimpses of the “light alone that is foreboding / enough in itself.”

Feeding each instinct off the other, the proof of the inability to ‘get at’ in Gold’s poems is in the living movements, and in the weight of the image, “like a waterfall behind a lightswitch / things wait there just out of reach.” He is well aware of the impermeability and the consciousness of uncertainty in the condition of being human, and depicts with authority these states of change—one moment visible and the next “spilling the illusion,”

reaching for something by which to retaliate         at life
I shoot my foot         I am not sure of the enemy         a whistle blows
and I am dragged off stage to be replaced
by some other idiot. it's cosmic

The poet assures us our loneliness and struggle, “It is war I wage. the falseness within me against the individual,” and yet he at once remains a portico for those of us seeking light and the promise that the mystical process will continue,

                                                       The lights
jarr, as in any analogy there are
elements that must mean something because
they must; but mean nothing
                                                       because they cannot.

Gold’s vision is a collection of the predictable, the underworried, configurations of the city and the body, the chase of idea. He is a philosopher of place, identifying himself through incarnation with the objects themselves, happiest just to enter, “if nothing was to happen in autumn / why would the wind enter the woods.” Gold, alchemist of “love’s passage,” intrudes, slides, returns,

the illegal swimmer

Not realizing the night,
accepting the cold the water’s arrogance

breaking into the water; intruding
in an element with no love
so men are fooled and drowned.

mercury, it will slide,
rush up our bodies;
and we are returned to earth.

my foot feels the water
slide never embracing it
steps aside.

we might sooner cherish silver.

Untitled poems quoted above, and “the illegal swimmer,” appear in before ROMANTIC WORDS and THE BEAUTIFUL CHEMICAL WALTZ. With thanks to Endre Farkas, Ken Norris, and Stephen Morrissey for kind approval in using Artie’s work and photos. Poems will be appearing in the upcoming fall release of THE COLLECTED BOOKS OF ARTIE GOLD, © 2010 Talonbooks.


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