Cleaving Rexroth

Rexroth Footnote—New Cleave Formats
—for Phuoc-Tan, Hoffman & Diana

While reading thru —The Collected Short Poems
Of Kenneth Rexroth—New Directions (1966)
I came across this—proto-cleave poem that’s
Interesting in terms of—the history of cleaves
It’s entitled—“This Night Only from his
Air and Angels collection—page 330:

This Night Only
—to Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie #1
The winter night the few stars
Far away millions of miles
The sea going on and on
Forever around the earth
Far and far as your lips are near
Filled with the same light as your eyes
Darling darling darling
The future i s long gone by
And the past will never happen
We have only this
Our one forever
So small so infinite
So brief so vast
Immortal as our hands that touch
Deathless as the firelit wine we drink
Almighty as this single kiss
That has no beginning
That will never

“This Night Only” is a proto-cleave poem—with a triple-columned set of unhyphenated stanzas. From a typographical POV—some proto-cleave poems like this on are simply vertical columns lined up with the left-hand margin. Others are centered on the page. If the poem has 2 vertical columns—sometimes it’s centered along the spine of spaces running down the center of the poem. Other times such poems—especially with more than 2 stanza columns—are centered with or without hyphens.

For example, I prefer simple hyphenated cleaves lined up with the left-hand margin—as with his version of the above “This Night Only” Rexroth proto-poem. It then becomes more a cleave than a proto-cleave poem for the reader:

This Night Only
(Cleave Version)

Moonlight—now—on Malibu
The winter night—the few stars
Far away—millions—of miles
The sea—going on—and on
Forever—around—the earth
Far—and far—as your lips—are near
Filled—with the same light—as your eyes
The future—is long gone by
And the past—will never happen
We have—only this
Our one forever
So small—so infinite
So brief—so vast
Immortal—as our hands that touch
Deathless—as the firelit wine we drink
Almighty—as this single kiss
That has no beginning—
That will—never end

Usually I embolden the left-hand stanza column to emphasize the fact that each column is a separate Voice and that the second column is also a separate Voice. With the reading culminating in 2 vertical Voices and one horizontal Voice. The more complex cleaves like Diana Manister’s polyvocal cleaves such as “dearly belateds”—exquisitely baroque perhaps even cleave rococo in style—change the whole nature of the Line as we know it by combining tables or blocks of embedded text & images into new Cleavages:

Diana’s Cleave Anthology cover pictured here at this link along with her Cleave of the Month “dearly belateds” poem shows how sophisticated the cleave form has become. For example, the Cleave cover is a cleave poem in itself. Notice how the usual cleave Line format (from left-hand margin flowing horizontally / vertically across the page) has been replaced by diagonally-radiating Lines!!! Lines that are both radiating outward—and inward into & out of the Eye that centers the Cleavage going on so uniquely and spontaneously there on the Anthology cover!!!

Both the avant-garde Anthology cover and the new way of embedding stanza lines into the new Cleave format is for me one of the most exciting things to come out of Phuoc-Tan’s idea of expanding The Cleave on the Internet and into the new world of POD (Print on Demand) Poetry publication thru the Lulu Adobe pdf. File format.

Seeing the Cleave format expand and innovate the Line as well as the Sentence in new ways thru the work of Diana and the other Cleave poets being published in Phuoc-Tan’s “Cleave of the Month” and “Cleave Short List” is very exciting and gratifying to me.

The Cleave seems to be expanding not only the way the Line and the Sentence appear on the page—but also I sense The Cleave moving into Lit Crit as well (perhaps along the lines of this Essay at its cleave-beginning). Seeing how Kenneth Rexroth went beyond poetry into REXroth Lit Crit with his Pulitzer Prize winning essays on politics, literature and poetics—makes me want to do the same thing.

Also, the possibility of a Cleave Novel authored by collaborating cleave writers appeals to me—although as Phuoc-Tan has suggested perhaps a Cleave Short Story before launching into a Cleave Novella or Novel would be more realistic.

I’ve published some inane chatty Cleave letters—on my literary blog Snarke as well as on the Elba NYTimes Exiles poetry forum as an example of Cleavage going conversationalese—rather than being completely literary all the time. As well as some experimental film reviews—along more nonchalant satirical campy Lines of Cleavage.

Rexroth’s “This Night Only” as well as the rest of his political activist oeuvre lends itself well toward Cleavage; the real test however is with more contemporary socially-engaged poets such Roberto Bolaño who represents to me not only The Boom literary movement in Latin America but also The Boomer generation of North America as we phase into so-called Modern Maturity… whatever that is.

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