The Operating System

POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition: DAY 27 :: Annie Paradis on Prageeta Sharma

“The heritage of being alone is to transmit truth to yourself faithfully, to still the paradigm of what opposes you in the world.” – ON LOVE, from Bliss to Fill 

What if you have daily access to technology, but you want to be in nature, but you want to have a web presence, but you want to find truth, but you yell at your mom, but you try to meditate, but you have an active Netflix account, but you want to be THE PUREST PERSON EVER, but then you are just a human being? Yeah, me too. That’s where Prageeta Sharma comes in. 

I recently encountered Sharma’s Bliss To Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000) a work that actively reminds one of what it is to be a person participating in her own life, but also participating in the world; a person that lives, but checks herself to see how her daily actions expand, how very threadlike it all is as they extend outward into a bigger picture.

Sharma’s work is analytical freedom.

There is no blocking, no stopping point of reflection, no one theory that she returns to, but an assemblage and a constant and organic organization of material that experiences, observes, and then expresses. 

Sharma lets the poem be serious, melodramatic, realistic, fantastical, girly, and best of all, human.

CATALOGUE OF SWINDLES AND PERVERSIONS
after Orwell’s “Politics and English Language”

Ring the changes on or take up the cudgels for,
to toe the line
and ride roughshod over,
to stand shoulder to shoulder with Achilles’ heel,
swan song and hot bed.
Do not pervert another phrase.

Grist the mill and make itself felt.
exhibit a tendency, take effect,
deserving of serious consideration,
this is to operate with false verbal limbs.

Pretentious diction is elemental and phenomenal,
primary or promotional.
Deracinated, clandestine.

Meaningless words are romantic, scientific and reactionary.

Jargon particular to Marxist writing is impermissible,
extramarital and non fragmentary.
Do not pervert another phrase.

[online at La Petite Zine]

Candor

Candor may have indeed arrived,
after years of mistrust,
persisting on my part,
as to what exactly it is.

Above the water, I have loved so much
that is unbearable to divulge

any method of explanation that’s unmediated.
Of candor in the grass,
feelings can disqualify future feelings.
It’s the sun now, or it’s the landscape
or the jaunts in the park.
I had wanted more and was slapped in the face.
So here I am, in response to excess,
a juvenile high on Marxism,
a false and reconstructed
humanist, and even if Marxism is passé,

I lasted this long on other misguided ideas.
Onward to careless valentines, situational and loveless
hysteria, mismatched enthusiasm with a bare ankle entwined.

Moreover, whatever passes by, whatever we jerk our bodies for,
collapsing down from the branches,
we look up, here, a modern tree, blustering, agile, and ambitious.

[from “Infamous Landscapes“, 2007. Fence Books.]

{Annie’s poem}

INSISTENCE

I received the medal generously, slightly coy, in
a similar heaven much larger than my own. How

brave I was! I felt so kept. Leaning against a lightening
blasted birch tree. I administer day with a low love

for this drink. I’m curious where to locate the exact
treeness of the tree. More of that. In battle this could

save your life. Tuck it in Annie! For here is the dawn
patrol. There’s a knot in my knobby tail, hanging

between my legs between the rocks. On a good day
I call it mine. Nearing your strange plants that birds

got my wings. And you continue to circle my landing
pad, but I still have my grasses, the medians, an automatic

sun you have my word. So please go to sleep. The
tiger will return to the jungle, an admiral, something

to care for or to eat? Silence broken by an unfamiliar
wahoo. Music that killed me. But I do not squander

my moral courage on minor vices. I end up missing
a lot of things. The savannah with the animals lovely

and asleep standing up. As a vision goes, this one. Grapes
in one by one. Wall-eyed I charge a fee, a big one,

to finance the herds. The herds know which way to go,
I do not. It will be better in the morning keep it up two

three four. The caravans will purr and gear toward
so many bodies on top of each other forgetting to

say halt. In the parking lot I am saluting the globe with my
entire body. Harpooned. Like in a helicopter, with my head-

set on, brandishing the flame. Troubled litter, roger,
that’s us. Wow, teepees.

Annie Paradis is earning her BFA in Poetry at Pratt Institute and works as an editorial assistant for New Directions Publishing. She likes the sun and is currently at work on a collection of historical poetry, A space odyssey folk opera, and a line of poems that will be available in Hi-Definition, like HDtv. 

[Editor’s note: Suffice it to say I originally received Annie’s unsolicited submission with a groan-in-two-parts. On the one hand, I was frustrated that she hadn’t written me *before* completing this piece, and I was still on the fence about the inclusion of student-poets in this particular series. My original decision to include Lancelot Runge’s translation work came out of a longstanding relationship with him and a real grasp on the scope and quality of his own work… but then, as often is the case, this opened the door to other students from his program [Annaliese and Annie] becoming aware of Exit Strata and of this series… and seeing an opening to stretch their wings a little. 

That said, on the other hand (and especially as an undergraduate professor for many years) I wish always to encourage in young writers the sort of bravery and drive that it takes to send these emissaries of ourselves out into the ether. The result, on the editorial end, has been an unexpected one: the correspondence I engaged in with all three reminded me how important it can be for our publications to nourish and support the youngest of and newest in our community — not only to promote its seasoned and prodigious members.

Ultimately, Exit Strata seeks to be a medium, a platform, a community, a forum, and an honest representation of creation as craft: as PROCESS as much as product. That being said, I have these students to thank for helping me solidify these intentions moving ahead: I never want to be the magazine who broke the spirit of a young creator as they set out on their path. 

We all know what it feels like to send out submissions, solicited or no, and barely receive a response and/or receive a pat, impersonal rejection. I remember how this felt as a young poet – and know it is something that led me to avoid that experience for many years. What Lancelot, Annaliese, and Annie remind us of is that as a tribe we must nurture all our members, not only in the interest of the longevity of our practice, but in the interest of strenghtening the bonds of trust and mutual support amongst us all, from which we all benefit so greatly.]


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