Tassi Winner of the 2002 Bordighera Poetry Prize
to: Awards Ceremony, Thursday Nov.
SongSongSonglessness | Lily
| Of Qilakitsoq Greenland 1500
AD| I Italy | Egypt
| Interview with the Quail Hunter
Tassi, winner of the 2002 Bordighera Poetry Prize for bilingual
publication of her ms. AndSongSongSonglessness has been
immersed since childhood in the creative arts including poetry,
painting and sound. She was Detroit born and grown and has lived
in San Diego for twenty years. She received a Bachelor of Arts
from University of California at San Diego and an M.F.A. from
San Diego State University. She now teaches at Southwestern College.
Tassi has published poems in Rolling Stone Magazine, Viet
Nam Generation, Scents & Sense, and the Birdcage Review;
LOESS, a collaborative art and poetry book and two broadsides
were published by Brighton Press. She has contributed the poetry
components for three Border Art/TAF exhibitions, one of which
was presented at la Biennale di Venezia. She sang on John Lennon's
"Instant Karma." Awards include the Burkhardt Prize,
Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize and the Miles Modern Poetry
Award. Tassi was a finalist in the National Poetry Series competition
and now has been selected, anonymously, by distinguished poet,
literary critic and teacher of creative writing, Dorothy Barresi,
to be this years winner of the Annual Bordighera Poetry
Barresi wrote of Tassis work: "Jane Tassi's inventive,
astonishing poetry does what all good poetry must do: it brings
us our world made new, line by line, even as it confirms our oldest
yearnings for emotional music that is deeply felt, mysteriously
familiar. Indeed, Tassi's poetry understands that the mysteries
of language mirror the mysteries of existence itself. Revelations
arise from our ever-shifting attempts to understand it, to make
sense of what is fleeting, lovely, potent, frightening, and, ultimately,
unknowable, just-out-of-reach. Tassi honors the complexity of
our existential condition while refusing to play to anyones
preconceived literary expectations. 'The hospitalized child in
/ a train of hospital / meteor of hospital. / Lilies pillow her.
/ We are in poetry we are in poetry / like a swimmer; / crocodiles
hell the river.' For Tassi, whose poetry has the same sting of
authenticity that Sylvia Plath's did, poetry exists in just such
unexpected juxtapositions of ordinary and extraordinary states
of being. Tassi is unafraid of ideas, and her imagery registers
the vibrancy of the physical world around her without resorting
to the shock value of easy surrealism. 'Sound will do what, and
colors who?' she asks in 'I Italy.' 'There can be no paradise
/ like this boying, girl-filled, fluted voice / vespering air,
sealed in its glade / a soul climbing out of flesh clothes.' What
a delight this brave poetry is to read! It brings the pressure
of conscious and unconscious human desire to bear on an outer
landscape pulsating with sensory data. The result is oracular,
hopeful, even when it grieves: 'I tell you, / I want to sleep
/ in the slow black and blow of a snowpool / some, short minutes
/ no sunup.' Tassi's poetry deserves to be read with a careful
eye and an open heart. It is the most accomplished work by an
emerging poet I have read in a long, long time."
be awarded at the November 21st Event
& Reception at POETS HOUSE,
New York City.
poems from, AND SONGSONGSONGLESSNESS follow:
bright red is the hearts noise
are words in the other room
like blurred stars
and an animal sound
if an animal weeps.
It is apparent that the violin
in the violinmans hands
is his infant
Hissing marsh of illness
hospitalized child in
a train of hospital
meteor of hospital.
Lilies pillow her.
We are in poetry
we are in poetry
like a swimmer;
crocodiles hell the river.
with any death
this is not earth
Qilakitsoq Greenlad 1500 AD
Nimmed and transfixed
by exigencies of dearth and cold
the mummies of Qilakitsoq
3 were 50
a 4 year old, and a boy of 6 months.
Theyre an array of tumor,
lice, lead, cadmium
birdskin, sealskin, woven straw
undergarments, overwear; tattoos
polleny, wormsy faeces
healed fractures, thumb warts
and to the hundreds teeth: no caries.
Their graves were lined
with White Arctic Bell-heather
the babe probably buried still living.
His disk head stares
-has fur hood
a face that mixes
wind, moon, reedy fume,
sheer, awed, wingéd,
magnetic, fluorescent, attracting
and in no way stinking.
will do what, and colors who?
Hill, hill, mounts, water;
sunfired sunflower field to the sea,
cindery Vesuvius, stone snows of Carrara.
A venetian blue button
sought in-out at thirty shops,
A mushroom large and browned golden
A one-town ruddy wine pursued through
the winding valleys of the Apennines,
The distance trills with murmuring
like red and blue purpling,
There can be no paradise
like this boying, girl-filled, fluted voice
vespering air, sealed in its glade
a soul climbing out of flesh clothes.
and the pyramids stabbing sky;
bazaar confections attracting flies
at a rate bettering excrement, 8:1, and the sun, and
This Africa is bandy-legged,
the poor minimed,
What is there to drink and feed
and dream from this?
And why did the ancients
upon milking their herds
scything their fields, sculling the chummed air of sleep,
still and too,
decide to squiggle
in gold and tight starrets of lapis
on the sarcophagi of their despots?
The easiest poem is the pyramids,
the electrum gleam on the pharaohs
basalt encasings and the asp wiggling
awake off a cone of sand.
The gut-Christing poem is the twelve seconds when a bus
the weight of a star cleft
the seashell of a boy who crossed
a street near the cemetary residences
there, there, in gimcrack Cairo.
with the Quail Hunter
gave me eight cleaned quail
in a block of pinkish iceand
told the story, square, paragraphic
of how with shot you fish birds
from their swing of sky:
"The land you find them on is rough.
Chaparrel, sage, low mesquite,
cholla cactus, prickly pear.
Morning and night red air.
Chollas jump. Sticks afire.
Youd never shoot a bird on the ground.
Some do of course, and shoot from trucks
and drink and shoot.
You spy quail first by hearing them.
They group in the bush and together
make a Captain Queeg-steel-balls sound.
The solitariness. You are talking with
the walking; talking to yourself along
with the pace and blend of weather and
maybe seeing a snake and the weight
of the gun. Theres also the smell
of shotgun after its fired,
the chunky shells and their specific
heft. That clash and shing
sound when you load.
But this is what happens:
a roar up murmur when the covey flies
out of the ground cover. Hit one,
puff of feathers and it
down scudding into rocks or
brush making a dying flutter for
ten or fifteen seconds.
Occasionally theres a head shot.
Ive seen it only two, three times.
It occurs every 500 or 1,000 kills.
The quail is hit and zips straight up,
higher than its flight in lifetime.
You do not believe your seeing
and the death goes on at such a height.
Then theres a lead drop to nothing.
No activity on the earth.
Thats exactly what happens.
Exactly how you feel"
by Jane Tassi. All rights reserved.
From her book
And SongSongSonglessness (Bordighera