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neither wit nor gold

af Ammiel Alcalay

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912,021,826 (3.5)Ingen
A personal investigation by the author into the relationships of context to text, memory to nostalgia, and present attention to the multiple traces of the past.
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"neither wit nor gold" (from then) is a study guide to being young, smart, intellectually voracious & creative at a particular time in several particular American places (Boston/Cambridge; NYC, the Eastern seashore). This archive of photos, notebook pages, journal entries, lists, poems & miscellany could well form the third tome in a trilogy that would include the author's previous books Scrapmetal & Islanders. Indeed, neither wit nor gold seems almost to comprise the notes or key to these earlier works. Rather than a retrospective collection of his early writing, this is a re-framing of that writing within the context in which it was written. In his author's note, Alcalay states that he was interested in the "process of composition" and that he wanted "to investigate and elucidate the world it emerged from." Significantly, many photos taken by Alcalay in the 1960s and 70s have been included. He must have been still an adolescent when he photographed Jimi Hendrix in concert. I particularly like the ghostlier images, the first photo in the book, one of a man (almost a blur) approaching a bench in a park or along a boardwalk. Another photo, late in the book, taken of a stairwell from below so that light streams in from above & washes out the top of the image, reprises the initial mood set by the first photo. These photos, as well as some of the notebook pages, reading notes & lists (people to meet when & where, cars to repair & car parts to procure, etc.)intrigued me as much as, if not more than the "poems." That said, I did love the short poem on page 55: "it is these late nights/ she does seem to say/ when we're together/ it's like/ one wave/ of my hand." In its brevity,it captures an ineffable quality of youth, a timelessness that is so intensely dependent on just THIS moment. Having come of age in a very different milieu, I envy the rich cultural resources available to Alcalay and his gang of friends: they heard jazz greats in the NY clubs such as the 5 Spot, not just on records; they went to readings by & had personal interactions with poets such as Creeley & Olson. They were young. They didn't sleep much. Cultural history was their backyard to dig in & dig into. Lucky them. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
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A personal investigation by the author into the relationships of context to text, memory to nostalgia, and present attention to the multiple traces of the past.

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