From: Theodore Weaver
Re: Review of Max Blagg, Pink Instrument, Cambridge, Mass.: Lumen Editions, 1998.
Date: October 12, 2013
Max Blagg read at Tribes Gallery for the release party of Sensitive Skin Magazine #10 on Saturday, October 5.
the Greenwich Village club where Lenny Bruce did skits. Property owners have cleaned up the eastern tip of Manhattan some but the whole experience, at least from the perspective of Blagg’s Pink Instrument, is not so different than the East Village of Bruce and Ginsberg.
The novelist Bonny Finberg was there. When asked what she thought of Max Blagg and the poets who would read before him and after him, Finberg said, “They are a diverse group of people, criminal minds, psychopaths, I don’t know. They are like my family.” Finberg’s novel Kali’s Day is coming out with Autonomedia.
Blagg’s performance was as perfect as his poems are beautiful. He stood at the front of the room wearing a baseball cap with a life-sized photograph of himself attached to it. The picture showed him with a rolled bandana around his neck; and in real life, he wore a rolled bandana around his neck.
He read the love poem “I Am for You” which has a crystalline quality. It is a list of images about the lovers.
By the end of the pastoral’s forty lines which are punctuated with only one period, Blagg fills it with contradiction that is simultaneously contained within his refined perimeters and overflowing. “I am for the primeval and not for the prim.”
In the way one would expect a cosmopolitan ex-patriot to admire the culture of rural Italy; he nonetheless verges on the prim with his correctness. He likes well tailored clothes and states that there is a time and place for everything: “I am for snow in winter / and cotton under the sun.” It is in fact his correctness that allows him to enjoy primeval things such as putting on suntan lotion at the beach and dancing.
Written in prose, “I Am for You” is as rhythmic as verse which is why Madonna said Blagg was “music to her ears.” He writes intimately about the musical form by comparing it to a heartbeat. “I am for winding all these strands / into a rhythm that will pulse in time / to the quick motor of the blood.” It is the crystalline quality that only Blagg can balance with rhythm that must make him unforgettable for Madonna as well as shockingly beautiful for the Sensitive Skin audience who heard the confessional performance.
Set in Italy, they go to the beach and the man metaphorically grasps rolls of skin on his lover’s back as they dance. In the amorous tradition, half of the words escape via abstraction such as “in the South of August” and “as bonita leaps in silvery arcs.”