Read The Earth as Air by Gustaf Sobin Free Online
Book Title: The Earth as Air|
The author of the book: Gustaf Sobin
ISBN 13: 9780811208925
Edition: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Date of issue: September 1st 1996
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.77 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.9
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When I read a poem for the first time, I try to figure out where on my personal micro-to-macro scale I want to read it. Some poems are all sound; I can simply listen to the way they flow and the thrumming of the syllables as they are generated, with little regard for the meaning of the words or lines they form. Likewise on the "micro" scale, some poems are visual - I can appreciate most deeply how the poem is dispersed and spread on the page. On the macro-scale, I pay attention to the story the poem tells, the repetitions in its structure, the narration it architects. Somewhere in between I pick out the meanings of individual words, resonate their implications on a level greater than sound but smaller than syntax.
Sobin shatters my spectrum. I cannot read a poem without hearing a narrative of sound, without unfolding a syntax of discrete and un-parse-able images. For an Ameri-French writer he seems to have perfectly rendered in english the traditionally Japanese tensions between a rapturous transcendence of beauty in the ephemeral and a need for understatement, precision, and the ineffability of imperfection. The book becomes its title: it is as inexorable as a glacier, yet as gentle and crystalline. The fragmented lines seem neither out of breath nor disjointed, though occasionally it seems I am catching only snippets, caught on the wind, While air is the most pervasive of substances, and the most fluid, it is also, in some ways, static. To be everywhere is to never go anywhere, and Sobin renders this feeling on the page; the reader is caught in a constant embudding and unfurling, always on the cusp of realization. Thus, Earth as Air is not for the reader who wants to get somewhere, who wants to draw a trajectory or develop an investment in the work. This is a book from which one can read ten lines or ten pages in a row and get just as much or as little from each experience.
Sobin describes poetry as "an equipoise-in-motion," "a harmonious tension," and acheives exactly that. The nearly-erotic tactility of the nature he presents to us not in adjectives but in verbs is paired and countered with the intagibility of the speaker's history and self. Indeed, we have to ask, who are the people, what are the memories, whence come the images that weave and echo in the scenery?
Just as I don't know whether I want to unpack a meaningful whole from discrete images of line-shards, I don't know if I want to answer these questions. The beauty of Sobin's work is not in the better understanding, the revelation of the world that his perspective provides, but is rather in the fraying edges of that expanding awareness, the emotionally acute but physically undefinable edge between newfound-knowledge and the still-unknowable.
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