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Let Us Now Praise Ordinary Things by Kareem Tayyar (Arroyo Seco Press)

Let Us Now Praise Ordinary Things by Kareem Tayyar (Arroyo Seco Press)

Kareem Tayyar’s Let Us Now Praise Ordinary Things is an extraordinary collection that discusses how one can find fulfilling and long term joy through a balanced understanding of how to appreciate simple things against a backdrop of pain. I have long admired Tayyar’s work and his approach to life. It is not easy to write about appreciating life, and he is able to do so without becoming preachy or treacly. Instead, he looks into the essence of things and moments to understand them for what they are. He doesn’t ignore pain; in fact, he acknowledges it. What he dwells on, however, are the moments between moments that constitute joy. The final line of the collection sums up this philosophy well: “After all, there is so much to praise, and so little time” (103). For him, death is a fact and that lends an urgency to his appreciation of those moments that comes before it.

     Much of this is a pure appreciation for art in all its forms. He is someone who loves classic rock of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and his discussion of it reminds me of the work of the late Gerald Locklin, who was one of Tayyar’s early mentors. Both have a casual voice that draws out what is extraordinary about the artists and the experience of encountering their music. In “On the Rolling Stones,” for example, he acknowledges what so many people love about the band, but highlights what people often forget, which is their potential for sensitivity. He writes, “they have written one of the most sensitive, vulnerable, and downright gorgeous songs ever committed to record: ‘Winter,’ which is the kind of ballad Wordsworth would have written had he come along in the age of electricity” (47). He goes on to allow his readers to enjoy the nostalgia of an old rock band, but also to draw out what we might have forgotten or never known about them. He discusses many musicians in this way including Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, but he certainly does not stop with popular musicians but classical music, jazz, Impressionist painters like Monet and Michaelangelo and writers like Shakespeare and Hemingway. Like his mentor, he does not limit his mind or creativity but allows himself to follow any line of thought that appeals to him.

     He also allows himself to explore the more spiritual dimension of small pleasures. In “On Dogs,” he demonstrates how powerful those moments can be. Here, he longs for a dog, “just so long as he is as much of a healer as Hero, a black labrador whom, upon arrival, pulled a close friend out of an extended depression that she has never fallen back into” (41). The small pleasure of being with a dog can lead to joy if someone is awake to it. In “On the Small Mandarins I Purchased at the Market this Afternoon,” he writes, “these mandarins are really something, small enough to double as Christmas ornaments, sweet enough to make ice cream seem hopelessly dull by comparison, and filling enough to make me believe that I could subsist entirely on them and nothing else for the rest of my life” (97). He often allows himself to dwell on these small kinds of pleasures.

     Anyone has a long history of pain and a great deal of pain to come, but Tayyar has found his way through that pain. He, like Kurt Vonnegut before him, offers us in this collection the day to day attitude that can make life a much better state to be in.

John Brantingham 26th June 2021

Beat Scene 72: Spring 2014 issue edited by Kevin Ring

Beat Scene 72: Spring 2014 issue edited by Kevin Ring

Dedicated to the 95 year old poet, painter, City Lights Bookstore and Press owner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, this issue has wide focus.

 

There is an interview with one of the founders of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, Diane di Prima; an appreciation of Iain Sinclair’s journey in pursuit of Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, Malcolm Lowry, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder and others in American Smoke; an investigation and memoir by Anne Waldman on Bob Dylan and the Beats; an insight into how Charles Bukowski was featured in Penguin Modern Poets 13, other articles on Kerouac, Robert La Vigne and Allen Ginsberg, plus a review section.

 

The central feature, though, is a wide ranging and fascinating interview by Kevin Ring with poet, critic, observer and essayist, Jim Burns. It begins with how Burns discovered another world of art, cinema and literature that differed from official versions and his subsequent discovery of American bohemianism through the writings of Kenneth Rexroth, which led to his reading of the Beats, Black Mountain and San Francisco writers in the late Fifties. He became a reviewer for Tribune, Jazz Journal, Ambit and The Guardian, and started submitting poems to little magazines in 1962. During this period he met Roy Fisher, Gael Turnbull, Michael Shayer, Dave Cunliffe, David Chaloner, Chris Torrance, Andrew Crozier and Tony Connor, and started corresponding with Gilbert Sorrentino and Seymour Krim. There are specific questions about the work of little magazines, such as The Outsider, Satis, Migrant and Ambit, about literary figures such as Eric Mottram, Gary Snyder and Andrew Crozier, his own editing of Move from December 1964 – April 1968, his involvement in the 1972 BBC film documentary directed by Alan Yentob, his editing of Palantir 1976-1983, his many poetry books, the nature of political poetry, his four books on radicals, bohemians, beats and outsiders, and so on. A fifth book is due from Penniless Press Publications later this year.

 

When asked about Move and its supplement, Thirteen American Poets, he replied:

 

The magazine itself always had a mixture of British and American poets and I wasn’t concerned to project any sort of Beat image, nor that of any other group. I just read what came in and printed what I liked. Just a few of the poets who were in the magazine and supplement were Anselm Hollo, Roy Fisher, Lee Harwood, Carol Berge, Charles Bukowski, Jack Micheline, Andrew Crozier, Chris Torrance, Fielding Dawson, Larry Eigner, Tom Clark, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Michael Horovitz, Max Finstein, David Tipton, and quite a few more. And it was sometimes a pleasure to give space to a quirky, older poet like Hugh Creighton Hill, whose short poems didn’t fit into any category but were a delight to read.

 

An admirable editorial stance.

 

Beat Scene 72 is available from Kevin Ring, 27 Court Leet, Binley Woods, Nr Coventry CV3 2JQ. Subscriptions are £25 for four issues.

http://www.beatscene.net

 

David Caddy 6th June 2014

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