Monday, April 06, 2015

when we were together in 1954 by Patrick Riedy (2012)

when we were together in 1954
Patrick Riedy
Buffalo, NY

#55 of 80 made. 5" X 5" (how square). Riedy put down markers in Buffalo, NY which is a good place to do it in upstate out of New York City kinda way. We communicated with each other by mail and chapbook exchanges in 2013 after Ryan Eckes, who Plan B Press published in 2007, did a reading in Buffalo. Riedy has since moved on to Syracuse. Buffalo shakes off its poets, and more come to fill the void.

Letterpressed cover, hand sewn stitchery, unpaginated pages, and pages of few words. But of the words that are there! They float, flutter, and meander. A book with a title that includes a year does so, indirectly and inadvertently, like nailing a marker into the soft ground of memory. To many born in or around 1954 (including this sod), that isn't just a year - it is THE year, our year. It's a year that left a mark, a "before 1954" or "in 1954", followed by "after 1954". 1954? It's not an idle insufficient series of numbers.

It's the year that Rock and Roll began. The year the French lost Vietnam and American "advisors" took over. It's the year of polio shots and color TV sets, and frozen dinners. Matisse died. The first nuclear sub was launched. On The Waterfront. Senator McCarthy. Brown vs. Board of Education. Oppenheimer is stripped of his security clearance - cut out of the debate, America detonate bigger bombs over Bikini islands.

Riedy, without digging through historical documents, nonetheless brilliantly states :
when we were together
in 1954
we weren't born yet

which is both a truism and deeper statement about how every successive generation can not fully comprehend or appreciate the previous one. The Political columnist, Gail Collins, wrote that no one grows old in the country that they were born in. Sage brilliance. Because rust never DOES sleep. There is always some younger, smarter, generation of fresh faces and stupid responses pushing up from "the future". And the future itself is not a static collection of datum. It's happens right now - and then, now - and again right now - no, I mean, NOW (snap your fingers, you have already missed it)

and when he concludes "everything had meaning/nothing was worth nothing/and these words/meant something" he summed up a good deal more than he imagined.

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