Published on Poetry New York (http://www2.evergreen.edu/poetryny)

Paulo Javier

Erik Podhora

Segue Series Reading

May 17, 2008

Paulo Javier was introduced as a person who wants to “re-connect with lyric immediacy…both sardonic and passionate… his poetry… an issue of identity.” He begins his reading with,

“I thought I’d begin with a whimper.”

In this “whimper” we find “pepperoni.” The name for a pizza we consume by the ton in the United States is extremely comical as the poet reads and repeats the word. Each time the pepperoni gets funnier as we become more and more in tune with how the word is inherently fun. The poem is short and ends with a call to action,

“Won’t you share this lonely pepperoni with me?”

 Yes I will Paulo. In fact, I think I might have just wolfed it down.

Paulo has a view of the world that gives everything its due, but does not glorify objects that we typically glorify with our words. I began to see the poems as an extension-offered up to the listeners- of the poet’s world view. In this view we see an imagining of change through non-violence, attentiveness, care; but above all else: imaginative poetics.

If we were to spend our time together on this earth offering each other the music and aesthetic beauty of Paulo’s poetry, there would certainly be no time for any bad things to happen. To imagine, even if for a brief for a moment:

No war, instead an exchange of ideas in a mutual spirit

Instead of fights with fists, bullets or splitting atoms

Weapons of Mass Poetics (only the best poetics of course: humble, humorous, beautiful, etc.)

Well, I am not the best imaginer, or, at least not the best at putting imagination to words. But, Paulo sets the kind of mood that provokes an imagination of the world as best as it could be. And it seems like a good place to be.

He only achieves our complicity in these imaginings because he seems so far removed from any didacticism. His success is in the humor and the music of his language. But, he is conscious of the kind of work his poems are doing. He says,

“I’ve been kind of a grand gesture guy in the past.”

I think he can achieve these kind of gestures precisely because he dismisses the possibility of being capable of achieving grand gestures.

As Paulo read on, we come to see a character examining himself through the perspective of a character “in the movies.” If not “in the movies,” “of the movies,” or “too bad I’m not in the movies.” While I could praise Paulo endlessly for his incorporation of this technique into his work, I do not think this particular aspect is what makes the work tick. The poems all function on a level that is much closer to our experience than some sort shared media experience. The pulsing rhythms, plays with inter and intra personal speak recall much of the human experience-that we live in the context of others.

“I am interested in private languages.” Paulo says. As he reads the subsequent poem we find two primary voices in conversation. One we can hear and understand. The other is a mixture of humming and “eee” sounds. The two voices understand each other perfectly, but the conversation makes no sense to those of us who understand less than half of the words being used.

The conversation took the direction that I often find myself in while talking with my mother. If not, my girlfriend. The exchange is highly personal, and real in that the voice we can understand has to answer questions that are never passed between mere friends. It was the kind of personal language that one shares with someone that has birthed them or someone known to them in sexual intimacy. For some reason you have to answer the most uncomfortable questions to these people…

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