Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lesiy or Leshy

From Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (Second Edition Unabridged, 1960), stationed in an upper room at Poet's House.

Lesiy, leshy [Slav. Myth.] A sylvan spirit, or wood demon.

I took the Greenway down to Poet's House on Friday the 25th to walk around its new (and "green"--there's gold in them flushers!) "home" on opening day.

The old space on Spring Street was wonderful. It was cozy. It felt Kunitzean. It felt like a perfect New Yorky living room.

This space is very, very nice. There is light and long sightlines and many windows. Spatially speaking, it feels to me nothing at all like the spirit of Stanley Kunitz--I should mention here that Stanley Kunitz is the unofficial and non-sectarian saint of Poet's House. The presence of light everywhere, though . . . . That's just poetry. That's everybody. Still, where are the small spaces and corners? Those count, too, dont they? Where's the weird desk under the stairs?

It's a beautiful visitor's center of sorts, not quite a home. A visitor unfamiliar with Kunitz's work will likely wonder why so much of the poetry artwork has his name on it. The Children's Room has three typewriters and a large cache of poets on cassette tape. In the future there will be a boulder room of some sort where kids can sit pretend they're reading in the mountains. (In the Hollywood movie, there is an arts center in Wyoming with a New York room outfitted with a bus stop and litter and a lightscape cut by skyscrapers and people chirping banalities into cell phones; here kids can pretend they're reading on a Midtown avenue.)

I suppose the fact that the Battery Park City Authority has leased this space to Poet's House rent-free until 2069 somehow offsets the vileness that the Port Authority inflicted on the city with the Building where the buses leave from. The one Authority taketh away . . . and the other Authority giveth.

The collection is inviting in ways it was not at Spring Street, and something tells me that the comfort of the light is going to make all the difference.

The best sign of the future of the place is that I saw three people writing longhand. Handwriting at the speed of blood (as Sven Birkerts once described the act of reading): makes me happy.

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