If you’ve been following this blog for even a little while, you must’ve noticed snippets from a blog called mole in the Smorgasblog and seen comments from its author, Dale Favier. Dale’s one of my oldest friends in the blogosphere (we’ve even met twice in person!) and he claims it was my example at Via Negativa that first got him to try his hand at modern poetry. (He had been primarily a fan of Victorian and Middle English poetry before that, so I think “modern” means “anything that doesn’t rhyme.”) Dale’s first collection of poems, Opening the World, is due out in September from the U.K.-based Pindrop Press, and I recently had the pleasure of reading it in manuscript. You can read what Luisa Igloria wrote about it on the publisher’s webpage.
With Dale’s book fresh in my mind, a sighting of a hairy-tailed mole in the lawn in front of my parents’ veranda on Monday morning seemed providential: videopoem material for the mole blogger! (See the Plummer’s Hollow blog for the full, 15-minute video and a few quotes about the largely unknown life of this mammal.) But figuring out which poem to envideo proved surprisingly difficult; several were a pretty good fit, but none was a perfect fit, I thought. Finding the right soundtrack was even more difficult, and consumed many hours. I’m not convinced that the trip-hop instrumental I finally settled on was optimal, but I think it works fairly well. A mole out foraging on the surface after daybreak does seem like an apt choice for a poem about mortality. There are a whole host of predators that could dispatch it at any moment — foxes, coyotes, weasels, fishers, feral cats, owls, hawks — especially considering how blind it is, and how close it let the three of us human watchers get.
I hasten to add that lack of awareness is not a characteristic I associate with Dale Favier! But vulnerability — perhaps, yes. I was a little more succinct than Luisa, but here’s the blurb I wrote:
Dale Favier is a new kind of American Buddhist poet, one less concerned with wisdom than compassion and desire, and as comfortable with the fables and paradoxes of the West as those of the East. His poems sing, chant, weep, declaim and delight. Earnest to a fault, yet always ready to indulge in foolishness and absurdity, Favier wears his erudition lightly and takes risks that few professional poets would take: “They have not written this in books;/ they would not dare; they have their suppers to earn.” Johan Huizinga wrote in Homo Ludens that poetry “proceeds within the play-ground of the mind,” and “the true appellation of the archaic poet is vates, the possessed, the God-smitten, the raving one.” Favier is one of the few modern poets I know who seems to fit this ancient mold. Opening the World documents no mere dalliance with ideas, but a life-long, passionate struggle with gods and mortals, love and death.