Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans poet David Brinks

David Brinks and Andre Codrescu are the founders of the New Orleans School for the Imagination in the French Quarter--"right above the Gold Mine Saloon"--a non-profit oganization for poetry, arts, yoga, and buddhist thought. They had just built brand new studio space in which they were planning to offer Saturday poetry workshops.

Codrescu is the editor of the journal Exsquisite Corpse. This poem by David Brinks is in their online issue:

the red earth

I was born from a gentle rise
in the left trouser-leg
of my father

my mother's kiss formed me into a fish

inside their volcano of approval
I discovered a legendary
moonsplit plum where I slept
an eternal history
of nine months
in the land of trembling water

the great earthquake of my mother's body
was my first poem

-Dave Brinks

I think this poem appeals to me right now partly because of the line "in the land of trembling water." I am also drawn to its depiction of beauty being created out of an arbitrary meeting and born from a violent event. The speaker is formed in a "volcano," sleeps in the seemingly eternal but ultimately temporary security of a "moonsplit plum," then is born when that security is shattered by a bodily "earthquake."

This birth is the speaker's "first poem," a statement that claims the poem as experience and a state of being rather than an artificial process. It also declares the poem as a birth, a creation; aligning the poem with birth imbues it with inherent mystery, humanity, and pain.


cj white said...

Fascinating selection. There are so many rich images that it's a challenge to bring them together. After my third or fourth reading, I looked again at the title "the red earth". I began to see the images as various depictions of the creation of life.

"born from a gentle rise" - the beginning of a mountain rising up.

"formed me into a fish" - evolution of single cell life in to more complex animals.

"volcano" - that image of early earth when first sparks of life emerged.

"eternal history of nine months" - there was no real beginning, but given a timespan like a parable to make it understandable.


Amy said...


I like the way you connect the poem's imagery to th earth. I think that's quite appropriate, given that the speaker defines his first poem as what might be the ultimate earthly, human experience: being born.

Susan Kirby-Smith said...

If you haven't read Dave Brink's books, The Caveat Onus, 1, 2 and 2,
they're fantastic. Check out more of his recent poems on my website, Unmoveable Feast.