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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Jim Dine: We lived once in an ideal kingdom


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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/Olive_trees_on_Thassos.JPG/1280px-Olive_trees_on_Thassos.JPG

Olive trees on Thassos, Greece: photo by Peter Pakandl, 7 September 2006





We lived once in an ideal kingdom.
It wasn't ever really "ideal" but
like we said about everything else
trees are dying,
people are dying,
it's unbelievably lonely
but wait a minute/ you said you were sad,
Zionist movements were always "back to nature."
As I asked you before,
are you interested in anything?





http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c0/Olive_blossoms.jpg/1280px-Olive_blossoms.jpg

Olive blossoms outside Jerusalem: photo by Sputnikcccp, 26 May 2005


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f9/JimDineWestmount.jpg/685px-JimDineWestmount.jpg

Jim Dine at the Galerie de Bellefeuille in Westmount, on the evening of the vernissage: photo by Martin C. Barry, September 2009


Jim Dine: We lived once in an ideal kingdom, November 2011

The heroic work in divers media of the American artist Jim Dine continues to enthrall and inspire. This poem was writ a few days ago in Paris, where Jim and his wife the artist Diana Michener are currently keeping at the good labours. Jim is a true world citizen, who works in Walla Walla, in western Europe, and where next? Tomorrow never knows.

17 comments:

TC said...

A great introduction to the full range of Jim's work can be found at the website of his publisher, Steidl & Partners. Check out, for example, the sample spread from This Is How I Remember Now (2008): "a selection of photographs of the artist himself, friends (dead and alive), relatives, and the wooden boy (soon to be a real boy) Pinocchio. Jim Dine is attempting in these works to bring, through memory, to life the people around him now and from the past. He has found a way to put aside mortality by the way the camera continually lies. This book is a selection of photographs of the artist himself, friends (dead and alive), relatives, and the wooden boy (soon to be a real boy) Pinocchio. Jim Dine is attempting in these works to bring, through memory, to life the people around him now and from the past. He has found a way to put aside mortality by the way the camera continually lies."

Ed Baker said...

that's Jim Dine ? He looks good..

as for what else are we but
that "selection of photographs of the artist himself"
via our (own) Mind's Eye (memory))"

the images they have up re his book.... really NEAT in their
details seen how shod I say this

as the bits and pieces are snatched-back, pinned down and reZ:seen/imaged (imagined?

and

just yesterday I googled to find out if I cld grow an olive tree here ?
doesn't seem so... besides that tree must be 2,000 years old.... "I should live so lng!"

charles said...

I remember the great Jim Dine retrospective in 1983 (I think that was the year). I saw it at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, having driven 5 hours in the snow to get there. Bob Creeley gave an address that evening, the first time I had seen him since first meeting him in 1978. All in all, one of the most memorable events of a life, with Dine, Creeley, the great art and talk, the snow, . . .

ACravan said...

With the olive trees, the vernissage view (and painting in the background), the poem and the action hero description, this is very good companion on my train ride to NYC ahead of what might be a fool's errand. (It's too soon to tell.) On my last trip, I visited the art gallery where Robert Rauschenberg's art collection was being exhibited and saw some Jim Dine tie drawings that were both incredibly beautiful and kept you in front of them for a long time. I love his work. Curtis

TC said...

Chuck,

Five hours' drive through the snow, those old lovely initiation rituals.

Brave ongoing, and I salute you from across the deserts and mountains, in the dawn.


Curtis,

Me too, about the love.

It's beautiful to be a fool and to be sent on fools' errands, it helps one to see into the heart of folly.

Could that insight be one of the great terrible necessary instructions?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

trees are dying,
people are dying,
it's unbelievably lonely. . .

Olive trees, Jim Dine, Bob Creeley, driving five hours through the snow to the Walker Art Center, taking train to Manhattan on a fool's errand, man shot five time last night in a Business School classroom (first heard here) -- and yes, "tomorrow never knows". . .

11.16

first grey light in sky above blackness
of ridge, waning white moon by branches
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

feeling of “subject,” as in
which word means what

fact, figure, between motion
and light, if that is

orange circle of sun rising above ridge,
waning white moon in cloudless blue sky

TC said...

Steve,

What is it they say? Bolinas is Bliss?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Hadn't heard that one before ("Bolinas is bliss") but doubt it's true -- cold as frozen-in-ice here now that the fog's come back it -- first it was clear, then fog came in (ridge disappeared), then fog gone (just as sun rose over shoulder of ridge (seen from channel, eye at water level) and now it's back again, ridge disappeared again. . .

Nin Andrews said...

I'm looking for that magic key, as you say. But Jm Dine is incredible. Thanks as always for posting such interesting work.

TC said...

Nin, that key, the key to the lost ideal kingdom, it seems to turn up now and then, in dreams, memories... and then, poof, vanished. "Now where'd I put my keys?"

Very happy you like Jim's work. His painting, drawing and sculpture are of course magnificent and deservedly acclaimed. (Yet another genius from Ohio!) Fewer people are aware of his poetry, which is a shame. He's been doing poems for a long, long time. (I had the good luck to be able to publish some of them in The Paris Review, way back when.) And in fact I'll bet he's got a new one on his hands, or in his head, or in his heart, even as I babble on here.

Where he gets his energy, I don't know, but have guessed, and suspect it's that last-named source, the heart, that may hold the clue (or key, shall we say?).

vazambam said...

Tom—

Though I’m no glutton, I can’t help myself here: Jim Dine’s work—one taste of it and you’re ready for more. Thanks for the introduction and the quick trip to Thassos. We have some of these wrinkled chaps’ cousins growing an olive pit’s throw away from town. Great company.

TC said...

Maybe the most poetic of trees, if to be venerable and gentle and useful is to be poetic -- and in their precincts, we grow prone to a gentle, hopefully useful veneration.

(Indeed any further growth of which I myself can conceive -- in propria persona -- would very likely have to take place in, or from, the prone position, waiting hopefully for the venerability to miraculously kick in.)

TC said...

...I love particularly the light that seems to be instilled within and emanating from the grove of olive trees -- the glaucous grey-green light of the eyes of the goddess...

(imagining Vassilis's Messenian landscape)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Tom:

Just playing catchup here. This is my naivete showing, but this is, at least knowingly, my first encounter with Jim Dine (Ed speaks often of when he dropped out - I feel here I never dropped in). I went to the National Gallery site and saw a series of his drawings and they are wonder-full.

That being said, this poem is just plain devastating. The power is raw and overwhelming. Aside from everything else here, two phrases just jump out at me:

...you said you were sad, ...
As I asked you before,
are you interested in anything?

I am just completely bowled over by the absolute direct speech, the cutting through the crap and right to the heart of things. I know there is a lot of phony poetry as therapy out there, but this, this isn't 'as', this is therapy.

Bowing deeply to the artist/poet (and ancient olive grove).

Don

TC said...

Don,

Hallelujah, and Amen. What a terrific poet, Jim -- and how very exceptional this poem, how stubbornly, obdurately direct and yet deeply enigmatic in that beautiful way great work always is, standing off from its subject even as it courageously stares its subject straight in the eye.

And when that subject is this world, our world, and what we have made of it -- oh my, to have it put so clearly before us, with this painful clarity, a rare and difficult and remarkable gift.

All this rings true:

"...this poem is just plain devastating. The power is raw and overwhelming. Aside from everything else here, two phrases just jump out at me:

...you said you were sad, ...
As I asked you before,
are you interested in anything?

"I am just completely bowled over by the absolute direct speech, the cutting through the crap and right to the heart of things. I know there is a lot of phony poetry as therapy out there, but this, this isn't 'as', this is therapy.

"Bowing deeply to the artist/poet (and ancient olive grove)."

That is credit where due, and I am indebted to you once again for your penetrating insight into the heart of the poem, what makes it tick, and what makes it matter.

Touchstone.

I've had the good fortune to be gifted with Jim's poems in the past. Don, as you're a librarian and perhaps have access to archives -- and I know you enjoy searching out precious things -- here are some of the Jim Dine poems I published in The Paris Review during my prehistoric tenure as poetry editor there.

Issue # 48:

American Street
The Work Bench
Facts in 1969
Bean

Issue # 52:

The Standard Bear
Travel Dust

Jim has been a kind and generous friend for a long time. Back in 1968 he provided a great cover for a collaborative poem Ron Padgett and I had done, called Bun.

He's in this last-chance game of life and art for the long run. I fully expect him to be up and standing and making great works in many media long after my own dust has gone with the wind.

ACravan said...

I've been revisiting this poem daily and I must say that I've never read anything quite like it. It really tugs you back. I guess I will need to visit the library to read the others in old Paris Reviews. Trying to find them online, though, I found a recent Jim Dine interview where he discusses poetry and poets. The whole interview was fascinating and it was stimulating to read how he thought all the "parts fit" in his artistic endeavors. Curtis

TC said...

A new Jim Dine poem has just floated into view here.