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.