Wednesday 21 October 2015

Cole Swensen's The Glass Age (Alice James Books, 2007), second selection

Here are some favourite passages from the book's second and third sections (of three). I find it a difficult work to excerpt from, as some of its felicity comes from longer threads and their concatenous developments.

from "The Glass Act":

        He said open

and everything he painted then opened
a woman sewing
enters in infinite gradations, the white
that never gets there
               who, alone in a house with light,
built his house entirely of doors.



has slipped, is now offset, and now the street and the windows comprise a single living thing, which makes it come out in color.


Bonnard had a double fixation: saturated color and utter transparency. Not so much opposites as an immanent collision of the present until it's tangible. Cracked open to reveal at its center, a verb.


from the final section, "Glazier, Glazier":

When I was a child, I had a glass kite. Said the child staring out the window of the speeding train.


While in France, they built whole mansions of glass;
called orangerie or serres or vies, a conservatory can be

made, paned, claimed

I grew a lemon from a forest of thieves; I grieve

still for the infinitesimal

difference between
what you can see and what you cannot see


Geometry with imprecision at its heart
as the circle always veers in its infinity. Necessity.


Every window implies a blind spot--it's the air, the percentage of air in every scene; the portion that can't be seen lying over everything. The unveiled veil.


One of Bonnard's last paintings is titled The Small Window and shows, through an open window that frames three sides of the painting, another window, red, and at a distance, a suggestion of a building or maybe by now a window alone, a thriving shore.

In the UK, Cole Swensen's books are most easily found through Abe Books

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