CHRIS MANSEL Engages
VOICE’S DAUGHTER OF A HEART YET TO BE BORN by Anne Waldman
(Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, Minn., 2016)
Anne Waldman begins her book with several quotes, the first being, “A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” This is written by Samuel Beckett, a writer who remarked in an interview with Time magazine that his banana sandwich tasted better when sitting on a grave. He was a writer whose writings steered the way for a whole absurdist movement, for generations to be enlightened.
In Ms. Waldman’s poem, “Elucidarium”, “Thel’s / consciousness, ignited by impermanence but/ cuts obstacles before they arise/ hear me, writers, know in future lives, / you are fragile entities/ how near to death by tech you are/ with your injected substances.” Opinions vary and only the writer knows of its intended meaning but in my opinion what Ms. Waldman is speaking of here is a cautionary tale. Perhaps as more serious drug use has become rampant in these times it is necessary to caution writers that their minds and bodies are “fragile entities”—fragile in the sense that you may survive but that magic that enabled you to share insight may fade. It would be better to live as long as Gary Snyder and be as vital, wouldn’t it?
Thel with broken cloud-wings
(she who sleeps on a swan’s wing.)
Tympanum of last tagged judgement
Fragged before her time
Sometimes the shout of a nation
It’s nation at womb mouth
The above excerpt is from Ms. Waldman's poem, “Vox Dei”. Ms. Waldman is never one to shy away from politics: mixing the name Thel, which comes from The Book of Thel by William Blake, with Vietnam, a war which Ms. Waldman protested against, isn’t a difficult leap. I was born in 1968, a time of war and assassination. Ms. Waldman was already ahead of me.
This is quite an extraordinary book. But that has been said I am sure of every one of Ms. Waldman’s forty books. There is much ground to cover and you won’t get to it all in one reading. You’ll have to go back and read it through a second time. The passion is there on the page. Put it this way: if you know Ms. Waldman's work, have you ever known her to shy away from difficult subjects? Then join the class. Learn with the rest of us. Read this book.
Chris Mansel is a writer, filmmaker, epileptic, musician, photographer and a permanent outsider for some reason. Along with Jake Berry, he formed the band Impermanence who have released one album, Arito. He releases music under the name dilation Impromptu who have released four albums and have just released a new Cd Indentions On The North Face of Everest. His writing has been published in the Experioddi(cyber)cist, Apocryphal Text, and the Atlantic Press among others. He has made over 260 short films for other artists as well as his own work.