Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Bombay Gin 26

Bombay Gin 26 by Reeve Gutsell
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bookshelves: art, literature, poetry

I'm still trying to get a handle on how I feel about Bombay Gin & what I think about it. I have multiple entry points to it - amongst others, many writers whose work I've respected have been published in its pages & have passed thru the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Just the "Disembodied Poetics" part of the name appeals to me immensely - after all, it's not the Boulder School or the Colorado School - it's disembodied, more detached.

I'm friends w/ the current managing editor (this issue was before her time there), I knew the faculty advisor, poet Anselm Hollo, when he lived in Baltimore - & I publish a tape of him reading in the 1970s. I'm not a big appreciator of Anselm's poetry but I remember liking him very much as a person. I even briefly considered attending Naropa shortly after it was founded in 1974 since I was interested in it when I heard about it then.

& that's just it - I feel a connection w/o necessarily liking much or most of the work. It's as if I can relate to this community as if I were somehow a part of it - w/o really being a part of it at all. Reading Bombay Gin is reading a report from a group of people drawn to Naropa by a commonality that might not always even be clear, that might not always be non-conflicted.. but, STILL, there's SOMETHING there, some philosophical thread, some similar seeking that keeps the work somehow distinct - even when it seems banal to me, somehow a cut outside the norm of scholarly journals even though it's the product of a school.

Let's just say that even though I'm not a Tibetan Buddhist & don't trust or like religion one whit, I STILL recognize the uniqueness of Naropa & the Kerouac School in the context of the 'United States'. Bombay Gin's the product of a rare critter, an endangered species. As Jack Coolom writes in his picture poem, "Proof Against Evolution", here:

"47 per cent of **AMERICANS** believe that human beings were created by GOD* in the present form in the past 10,000 years."

& what does Jack Collom 'believe'? I'm not even sure I believe that human beings exist YET. I AM SURE that 'God' was created in the image of human beings, though - whatever THEY are - some sort of horrifying mess, apparently. Collom's poem (refreshing for me for its pictorial shape as something anthropomorphic) points to just how rare Naropa IS - in a society forever ready to wipe out anything in its path for 'ideals' of an intellectual level below dogshit, Naropa really is a "precious one" to me - even though I'm NOT a Tibetan Buddhist.

But what about the writing & the art here? Well, again, it's distinguished by the community it's a part of. There IS seeking here - even if there's a certain sameness to the subject matter that unifies it w/ the work of amateurs (& professionals) everywhere: sex & death being a BIG recurrence (at least in this issue). I'm reminded of the open readings I attended in the early 1970s in Baltimore - what a relief it was to NOT have to hear once again somebody's gay (or strsight) confessional, what a relief it was when SOMEBODY actually stepped outside ALL THE BOXES (even the clichéd 'deviant' ones) & had an idea that DIDN'T involve sex or coffee or cigarettes or death or their relatives or whatever. But Bombay Gin really is different - even if the differences are subtle at times.

I keep returning to "seekers", this is a community of seekers. I remember Lawrence Ferlinghetti being one of the 1st poets that ever appealed to me when I was a teenager. Here was someone that I had some philosophical points in common w/. I lost interest in him pretty fast - as I did w/ Hesse & Gibran & Brautigan, other writers that I read at the time - but I recently listened to a CD of him reading in 1957 & quite liked it - my enthusiasm for him came back. & in this issue there's a poem of his, written at age 77, describing his searching out the house he was born in. Of course he was seeking more than just the house, he was seeking a return to his beginnings, some sort of full circle experience of an old man flashing back to birth.

I'm recognizing more & more names in each new issue I read. Yes, there's more by Anne Waldman (once again I found things there to surprise & please), Wanda Coleman (a name I recognize but a person whose work I know entirely too little about), Lee Christopher, Andrew Schelling (the current Editor-in-Chief). Schelling's "Land Speculator Haibun" did more for me than most here. Akilah Oliver's "Fibs 7809" was another.

Somehow, though, everyone collected here seems trapped in their Bardo - not quite completing their tasks w/ enuf inspiration to pass on into the next realm. Truly SEEK or you SHALL NOT FIND - in other words, stay attached to certain forms & you stay TRAPPED by them. & THAT'S WHAT I FIND SO MADDENING HERE - the process of seeking arouses feeling in me, but WHERE IS THE THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX?!

Frank looks at sexuality are essential but only one step, Laura Deerfield's "Liver Damage" takes a hard look in a concise way - but it's only one step. So much of the work, even that of the old-timers, just seem like baby steps to me. Is this the work that prisoners wd read? No. Is MY WORK the work that prisoners wd read? Even less. I'm convinced that thousands of sincere motivated extraordinary people have passed thru the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. BUT, like Kerouc himself, do they REALLY lead the life to free themselves? & will their work get them out of the coffin they were born into? It remains to be seen, or disinterred.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 6, 2010 – Shelved
August 6, 2010 – Shelved as: art
August 6, 2010 – Shelved as: literature
August 6, 2010 – Shelved as: poetry
August 6, 2010 – Finished Reading

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