Monday, October 31, 2011

Sward Soars

Santa Cruz poet Robert Sward (photo: Alan Lundell)
Gathering this Sunday at artist/sculptor Coeleen Kiebert's garden studio overlooking the Pacific to celebrate the publication by Red Hen Press of New and Selected Poems 1957-2011 by Robert Sward. Poets and artists in great abundance. Many of the Santa Cruz cogniscenti showed up at Coeleen's including local columnist Bruce Bratton, poets Len Anderson, David Swenger, Tilly Shaw, T. Mike Walker, Joanna Martin, Robin Lysne. Stephen Kessler, Dean Cervine, Sun Lundell. Angela Blessing was there, along with Bruce Damer, Elke Maus, Ken Adams and dozens of other colorful folk I did not recognize. Encouraged by his many admirers, Sward roared and soared. The event was videoed by Alan and Sun Lundell.

Sward's wife Gloria Alford created the cover art Words, Words, Words for her husband's book. In Gloria's painting the alphabet seems to be emerging from the walls of a cave--as if humans were only just beginning to discover the uses of language.

Sward often uses humor as a wedge to pry open and examine the insoluable complexities of ordinary life. Some of his poems consist of imagined conversations with his dead father, a Chicago Jewish podiatrist turned AMORC  mystic, the subject of Sward's collection Rosicrucian in the Basement. For example:


"We walk with angels
and they are our feet."

"'Vibrating energy packets,'" he calls them. "'Bundles of soul
in a world of meat.'  Early warning system--
dry skin and brittle nails;
feeling of numbness and cold;
these are symptoms; they mean something.
I see things physicians miss."

"All you have to do is open your eyes, just open your eyes,
and you'll see: seven-eighths of everything is invisible, a spirit
inside the spirit.
The soul is rooted in the foot.
As your friend Bly says, 'The soul longs to go down';
feet know the way to the other world,
that world where people are awake.
So do me a favor: Dream me no dreams.
A dreamer is someone who's asleep."

"You know, the material world is infinite,
but boring infinite," he says, cigarette in hand,
little wings fluttering at his ankles.

"And women," he says, smacking his head,
"four times as many foot problems as men.
High heels are the culprit."

"I may be a podiatrist, but I know what I'm about:
feet. Feet don't lie,
don't cheat, don't kiss ass. Truth is,
peoples' feet are too good for them."

Robert Sward and Gloria Alford in Coeleen's garden


RoseRose said...

would love to have been there

ckboss said...

It was a wonderful day. Many thanks