Sunday, September 29, 2013

INTIMACIES & OTHER DEVICES

Earlier this year, I was one of two Louisiana poets who read at a Valentine’s Day poetry reading on the stage of Casa Azul in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Although Patrice Melnick, owner of Casa Azul and coordinator of the program, didn’t mandate that we read love poems, I prefaced my reading with an explication of the four categories of love C.S. Lewis wrote about. I explained that Lewis, the great Anglican apologist, didn’t discover Eros until he married late in life and that he wondered why he’d been hanging out with all those grumpy guys in the Inklings group so many years instead of romancing someone like his wife Joy.
The four categories Lewis wrote about are storge, or affection, which Lewis said was a ready-made love in families, the result of fondness due to familiarity; Philio, or the love defining friendship; Eros, or the love that Lewis says can become a god to people who fully submit to it; and finally, Agape, the love that engenders caring–charitable love, a type of sacrificial love.
Before the reading, I selected poems that exemplified the four categories, and Eros sorta’ got the short end of the stick because I was a bit shy about reading words that expressed the deepest intimacies of love, even if some of them were more comic than passionate. This morning I finished reading the work of a writer named Kurt Heinzelman, a poet who definitely isn’t reticent about paying homage to Eros. Intimacies & Other Devices, published by Pinyon Publishing, could be classified as poetry written by an “intellectual romantic”–his poems range from classical and contemporary emotive poetry to ballads that are adaptations of Paul Verlaine, Pablo Neruda, Homer, and others. His eloquent words and rhythms convey the message of the quotation by Gaston Bachelard in the opening pages of Intimacies: “There does not exist a real / intimacy that is repellent. / All the spaces of intimacy / are designated by attraction. / Their being is well-being.”
Since I prefer contemporary poetry to classical poetry, the less formal poems in Intimacies resonated more readily with me; e.g., “Study For the Figure of Time:” “So fine those hips…the muslin sheathed/the sheathing showed how movement moved/like a fingering of flutes seen before the sound/warm as breath can be blown through/time’s cold hands.” I thought of the poets Billy Collins and Charles Simic when I read the poem designated “after Paul Celan” entitled “Corona:” “Standing at the window now we embrace, the people/look up from the street:/it is time they knew!!/It is time that the stones deigned to bloom,/that unrest got a heart-beat of its own./Time now that it were time./It’s time.”
Heinzelman’s work is playful and sensual as he acknowledges Eros, and he seems totally unabashed about celebrating lust in “Lust, At Your Age: “A cello with no/need so dire/it stirs any echo/A viola with a/lilt so tender it/fills every hollow./A violin as un-/equivocally civil/as a stand/of sugar maples/that first warm week/before they run.”
My favorite in the collection is entitled “The Wound of Water in the Stones of the Day,” after a line from Yves Bonnefoy, a contemporary French poet and philosopher. The last few lines are intensely concentrated, full of sensual energy and the imagery of natural beauty: “As a child you said how you liked sledding/into that hollow between the barn and house/hearing the strop of runners on ice-pack/the hiss of salt needling in/knowing by late spring how still water/passes a fallen stone wall over.”
The work of Pierre de Ronsard, French poet of poets, has been described as “an easy mix of scholarship and love of natural beauty,” a phrase I think aptly captures the essence of Intimacies & Other Devices. Gary Entsminger, editor and publisher of Pinyon Publishing, reports that Heinzelman ranks in the top 60 in Amazon’s “Love Poems” category. His work stands alongside Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Shakespeare, Blake, and other notables. This is a collection of poetry executed in its many forms and feelings by a master poet, a book in which the author isn’t afraid to raise the shades on the window into intimacy. Additionally, the photograph on the cover of Intimacies, derived from the painting, A Young Woman Reading by Lucius Rossi, is a real eye catcher.
Heinzelman is editor-at-large for Bat City Review, editor-in-chief of Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Order from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, Colorado 81403.
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