216 pages of Prose Poetry on Politics, Music (Bach & Coltrane), Eros, Art (Goya & van Gogh), Philosophy (Nietzsche & Levinas), & the Quotidian (daily bread & news that stays news)
Robert Gibbons’ work transcends genres. Living body writing, what difference, if Truth comes out? And gives readers pleasure. Both Guy Davenport and Marjorie Perloff compared his work to Rimbaud’s. Sam Hamill wrote, “Anyone familiar with Thelonius Monk’s music cannot help but feel the quirky syncopations of Gibbons’ mind fitting perfectly with those of the pianist.” At 65-years-old, he’s still walking around the waterfront taking in the world, or at the desk in the backroom writing, often peering underneath for the Feminine*.
*Voice of Silence, image of the Hidden, embodiment of Beauty, signature of Peace, source of Love, etc.
“Elie Wiesel once mentioned a rabbi who was silent even while speaking. This may serve for us as, after so-called civilization's horrors of the past century, the very definition of exile. As Robert Gibbons, one of the great writers of our time says, ‘When silence is located, clarity resounds.’ I keep thinking, too, of his image of our chair in history as ‘a piano bench filled with sheets of music.’ Gibbons' learning is capacious and humble, the light of his mind breathtaking, and the self-effacing homage he pays to the places and to the authors he has inhabited in writings ranging from the domestic to the cosmic is at once brilliant, poignant, and silent.”
– William Heyen, Author of A Poetics of Hiroshima
“To read Gibbons’ body of work from its beginnings to the present is to watch him make himself into a poet the way Coltrane or Mingus made themselves into musicians.” – Richard Hoffman, Author of Gold Star Road and Emblem
“This Time, Robert Gibbons’ tour de force, showcases the talents of this artist. Ear for language, eye for detail, ability to touch both intellect and emotion at the same time distinguishes his work.
‘I’m going to try to shove the tail into the mouth of the snake of Time’ he writes in “Snake of Time”. The collection works hard to fulfill that aim using references to music, art, nature, and philosophy—to startle the reader into lifting one’s eyes to where they are in Time, using language to enhance our ability to see more clearly and perceptively.
This is a book to be read slowly, carefully. A journey, creating for the reader a sense of Timelessness—permission to undertake personal exploration and reflection. One completes that journey a better observer and with a deeper appreciation of the world with Gibbons as the guide.”
– David Ferriero, Former Director of the New York Public Library
Poetry & Truth
Those mean texts worthy to traverse through tough sledding. I said to her, when she spared enough Time to walk the Eastern Shore, to ungrapple herself long enough from her own course, the graphs & texts, as we looked over & saw the young punks sprawled out on the grass, smoking, lonely, wanting knowledge knowing so little, that they should open a book. Not for knowledge that already exists, but to lend their own discoveries to what presents itself within the pages. That’s just what Nietzsche complained about in 1873, or so, that the facts of history twisted the young generation into. & as just so these. The ones tested into deformity & disgust. We agreed they all should be freer to choose what to read, to pursue their own curiosity, rather than the stifling questioning for right answers. The sun rolls down this afternoon, or earth tumbles round toward it, drawing heat into my study as the sources spread out before me await their say. Hunting for Truth via Goya, Olson’s been patient there in Poetry and Truth on top of Death in the Afternoon, with the Francis Bacon postcard as bookmark marking where I last left off in the tough going, sent from, no kidding, just turned it round for the postmark, no, no kidding, so terribly uncanny to follow one’s own instincts, where just before I set up to address this friend, the blank page, Olson reached the point, where he could say to the weary audience at Beloit College in March, no less, in 1968, that it was Keats in 1819 who gave him the notion that any irritable reaching after reason undermined the ability to work within doubts. So there I was addressing the blank page with the date of Keats’s breakthrough running parallel with Goya purchasing the Quinta del Sordo, & beginning to paint The Black Paintings. So, now, look, the postcard as bookmark marking the page, where I left off in the tough sledding of difficult reading, is on one side Francis Bacon’s image of the Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953, sent as communiqué from David Anfam on December 4, 2009, from the Prado itself in Madrid, which houses each of the paintings of both Bacon & Goya.