What Flies Between: Richard Gilbert

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Purple-podded pole bean, photograph by Michelle Tennison, 2016

 

Poet and scholar Richard Gilbert boldly peers into the spaces between things to give definition to what sparks there.

For over a decade Richard has helped to define haiku as Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), and his upcoming Investigations into the Space of Mind, of Poetry of Sanctuary: Haiku, and an Ethics of Freedom promises to take this exploration even further. His work is complex, often brilliant and groundbreaking. His essay The Disjunctive Dragonfly, originally published in 2004 and more recently expanded into book form with Red Moon Press in 2013, has been likened to a “thunderbolt” within the genre, “expanding the potential of haiku in the 21st Century. ”

So, (and this is just to give you a heads-up), if you play the Question and Answer Game with Richard Gilbert expect to travel into the farthest reaches of the space-time continuum, knock about there just a bit, and likely find a paradigm shift or two just for fun.

You are writing a poem to the inhabitable exoplanet Trappist-1e
“A world swimming in water in perpetual twilight.” What is it?
          In sand dunes I waited but she didn’t

Question Richard Gilbert,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

Most likely you’ll then feel yourself heading deep into the heart of Mystery itself with a headlong aesthetic rush. Is Truth Love?  Is Truth Truth? I don’t know for certain, but it sure is beautiful.

Is this an unfortunate reality?
          just the two of us:
          what flies between
          the kiss

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Richard Gilbert (2017)

An Internal Barometer of Truth

The seemingly incongruous juxtaposition, the often wildly unexpected pairing of two or more images and/or concepts: This is where Surrealism draws much of its power to affect consciousness, and The Question and Answer Game is no exception.

The gift of resonance allows us to recognize veracity within what may at first appear to be an impossibly matched pair of answers and questions. The insights we experience aren’t necessarily grasped by the Mind, at least not at first, but they are nevertheless felt to be true. The pathway to this new awareness is more like a sudden expansion of consciousness, not the linear one we are used to in ordinary discourse.  It feels more like the opening up that occurs when we hear a sound that is particularly resonant, like that of a bell or a tuning fork, and something within us moves suddenly in synchronous agreement.

This energetic affirmation, this felt sense of  “Yes, that is so,” (often despite initial illogical appearance), is our guide to reading the results of Surrealist literary games,  as well as interacting with haiku and other forms of literature and art that are intuition-based. We can’t rely on expectations, history, or habit.  It is a felt experience, but where do we feel it? In our ‘gut,’ our heart, every cell of our being? Is our DNA doing a little dance of communion? I don’t believe that it is possible to exactly locate where the process occurs.  Maybe it is all of the above. The point is that this experience is to a large extent internal.

Why does this matter? If the assembly point of our reality and our sense of truth is internal, what does this mean? Perhaps if we can learn to trust this gift of resonance, we can learn to trust ourselves to determine what we will and will not align ourselves with, based on what feels most life-promoting, honest, and authentic. If we can learn to judge these things for ourselves maybe we will be less likely to be easily manipulated or swayed by the agendas of others.

Yes, this internal barometer of truth matters. It might even be at the heart of why Surrealism, despite its surface appearance,  is so much more than frivolous, why it is in fact revolutionary, and why nearly 100 years after its inception it continues to be relevant.

Surrealist games and Surrealistic art in general are rather brilliant at shining a light on this inherent, sometimes latent, skill of discerning truth for ourselves, in part by highlighting the fact that there are so many potential truths available at all times. It is up to us to accept or reject what is set before us. It is up to us to see what is possible.

How liberating!