Exoskeletonism: Writing Poetry about the Films of Akira Kurosawa

By | 1 May 2021

The Rhizome

At the beginning of 2020 I began to write a poem about something I called the rhizome. It continues even now. This poem keeps changing. Parts of it shoot out and other parts that used to be fine die off. It is a poem trying to interpret this metaphor of an underground organism.

Rhizome came out of many months of the daily writing. When I read this writing, in which I have usually forgotten what I wrote, I feel that I had been sending notes to myself like I’m my own ancestor ghost. I’m going to have to come to terms with it somehow.

Then at the store 	
right through the face of the man at the counter		
the rhizome said into my mind
One thing is true, and that is me.

Underneath the things in my bank accounts		
the rhizome moved. The rhizome began slowly
to deactivate money.

The rhizome poem is a series of statements, a series of scenes, and it is meant to move slowly, like an Andrei Tarkovsky film, in that slow way that cannot be argued with.

And then it went back down to its great seam of lapis  
having absorbed enough and
dragging with it all surfaced loops and knuckles. 	

At night the computers of the world have suspicious dreams
and they search in each other for what rhizome means.

Underground, along the vast and twisting 
vegetable spine with infinite ribs 	
great nodes of phosphorescence continue 
to flare. This digestion always 
droning with the soul’s tinnitus    
coming to an unstable crisis
emitting, emitting, then de-exciting	
and dispersing to death 	
then divining again

throwing forth its glowing 
glowing fuses.

When I went to begin this essay, an essay on how film is interwoven with my poetry and my thinking, I instantly went through my notes looking for anything related to Tarkovsky, director of modern Russian classics Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979). But while Tarkovsky’s life and artistic approach is undeniably alive in how I view things, and certainly very literally present in my poems’ content (my Whitmore Press collection Meteorites (2016) has several poems about Tarkovsky films) when it got down to film imagery, it was – and I was stunned at this – Kurosawa that was the true presence.

Kurosawa’s swift, joyful mastery had got into more cracks than I had thought. Kurosawa had gifted me more dream images, ones that stayed with me subconsciously, than any other artist I loved. He had psychically twinned me more seamlessly. Tarkovsky’s voice was louder in my mind, but Kurosawa’s films lived more gently and autonomously. Kurosawa’s vision was a true artistic rhizome.

As mentioned, I was particularly taken with Kurosawa’s favourite actor, Mifune (and I was also always taken with Tarkovsky’s favourite actor, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, who played Andrei Rublev – maybe you have to love a director’s favourite actor to truly see with the director), but it’s not just about the actors. It’s about this persistence of visual language that is coming into my own creative consciousness, acting like a dream. A dream rhizome, springing up in other people’s minds. That’s what films can do, if they’re really good.

This entry was posted in ESSAYS and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

One Response to Exoskeletonism: Writing Poetry about the Films of Akira Kurosawa

  1. Pingback: Catching up a bit… | Poems about Tarkovsky films