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Marc Vincenz


Many worlds collide in these brainy, bright-shiny poems: philology, science, geography, myth. Our guide to this multiverse is one Uncle Fernando, a wily shape-shifter not unlike Carlos Castañeda’s Don Juan, although he has a touch of the vaudevillian as well. He’s often in conversation with the Sibyl, that soothsayer of old who was herself a consummate performer. Listen to these two, reader, and to the poet’s voice behind them: I guarantee you’ll be both enlightened and entertained.

– David Kirby

Leaning into the Infinite is a highly original, ambitious work of lyrics woven into a shape-shifting, intertwined poetic narrative. The range of tone and scope of reference is truly impressive. A central figure, Uncle Fernando, perhaps a distant cousin of Zbigniew Herbert’s Mr Cogito, is an Everyman attempting to relate reason and spirituality, history and myth, past and present to the paths his own life have taken him. He is “a magic man” in an alluring, rich poetic work that spans vistas that demand and reward the reader’s intimate involvement. Throughout, the poet follows his own advice to “observe everything / one bird at a time.” The result is a breathtaking, courageous, transformative book.

– Brian Swann

The ambitious poems of Marc Vincenz don’t fit into any poetic scene or aesthetic camp I can name—he is an internationalist, and his work mixes far-flung flavors: a little Hart Crane, a little Italo Calvino, a little Pavese,… possibly a little Vallejo? These poems don’t stand still, but rocket around, through tones that range from the highly romantic to the ironic to the analytic. They incorporate the vocabulary of chemistry, anthropology, and ecology– and marry it to flamboyant verbal stylistics. Vincenz seems unafraid of being exotic or abstruse, but his poetry is also soundly grounded in a recurrent emotional urgency, and by returning with great plainness to the irrefutable pain of the human condition.

– Tony Hoagland

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Leaning Into the Infinite

Leaning Into the Infinite by Marc Vincenz


All roads are travelled.
Vibration determines everything.

This life journey upon which one embarks, a path enveloped by vague mists & fractured contexts. Marc Vincenz’s Leaning Into The Infinite would be this journey recapitulated — an odyssey through language where allegory is served up as the cargo. It is a topography of conjecture, with Orphic allusions joined through a synthesis of loose & knotted linkage. The exploratory imagination is on full dioramic display here, a mosaic of exploration through the centuries, configured by a confederation of ideas & imagery.

The pathways that insinuate through foreshadowed imagery in Vincenz’s previous books This Wasted Land and Becoming the Sound of Bees, continue in Leaning Into The Infinite by way of a similar thematic momentum, with images of visions achieved via passage through the Underworld — through “Journey’s that do not end” —  with images of decay and renewal, of inertia, of prayers and cursings. The journey proceeds across terrains of questioning exile in a pursuit of language as it transcends the temporal realms.

The mytho-poetic narrative begun in Becoming the Sound of Bees echoes throughout these poems, both cryptic and intrepid. Uncle Fernando (as a persona of Pessoa) and Ivan, two wayfarers linked-up across their symbolic process, thread their way along the sinuous journey embarked upon, both of them recording various illusions and sundry events as they proceed. Counterparts-in-exile striving for their glimpses of the Infinite.

In prior books by Marc Vincenz, these various palpable instances of exile have been previously suggested, where the actors involved are impregnated with a transitory residency. Yet “what soul wants to dwell forever in exile, watching a tide rise & fall from the sidelines?” This would seemingly lead Uncle Fernando to suggest to anyone finding themselves in strange territory:

Let us lean toward the infinite with the sense
that somehow we lean toward ourselves
& let us preserve the flame that each night
may buzz in the memory of a sundrenched day,
so we might know what it means to be truly sad,
to be truly simple,
to be calm as trees.

Within the pages of Leaning Into The Infinite are deft hints regarding our evolutionary future; we receive kaleidoscopic glimpses that mesh in a process of particulars, sustaining a journey both inner and outer. And it is the water, “that engine of change”, and the a priori light which underpins all process and motion, that are the elemental redeeming allegories of infinite pattern & flux which fuel a “primal inkling”, the very phenomena that sparked the Romantics with their nature visions. Water and light, inextricably bound by the wave phases of eternity, provide the rhythms of genesis and renewal, of elemental action by way of substance & process.

A holy order interlocked
In its own unity.
And that everything
Was a sign or signature of something else,

The metaphor being the meaning
Behind matter and what mattered:

A code to be deciphered by those in the know —

Leaning Into The Infinite depicts a Dantesque narrative quest, where getting lost becomes the impetus/consequence of a journey taken through unknown terrains. Jungian episodics of retrieval and anticipation reveal the insinuating path through descent, plateau, and ascent. Wisdom beckons as the goal, handed down through riddles revealed across this world’s historical legacies.

Allusions to language’s purpose abound across these pages, leading one to ask: Might it be that language has evolved because of our continuous usage, “a language woven/ with rivers & skies”, and the “Language of Dawn”? By the ancient auguries done in the gaugings of bird flight, would there be reference to the poetic flights of language? Uncle Fernando indicates this to be so: “Take note. Observe everything. One bird at a time.”

It is himself as augur, the one who has originated a Dead Bird Theory of Everything in a kind of ontology based on the metaphor of a bird that dies, yet who reawakens through a quantum reassembly in its quest to know the Unknowable. He has further avuncular advice to the one on the journey of self-discovery:

That bird
In space
In your own right

Even if “Few Birds Speak”, Uncle Fernando’s Dead Bird does speak, does notice, and does realize through its transformation, that it is destined to lean into the Infinite.

In his uniquely original book Meadowlark West, the San Franciscan poet Philip Lamantia, himself characterized as a “Shaman of the Surreal”, speaks about “the lyrical sublimity of birds”, where the language of birds provides a “mouth of poesis”. It seems likely that Uncle Fernando, that ontologically searching soothsayer, has embarked upon his own “homeward journey” in the second part of Leaning Into The Infinite, where he engages the “symbolique” of the birds with orthinic offerings. A mythopoetic ekstasis reflects Lamantia’s Ornithic hermetica and suggests itself in this Orphic utterance:

[Whoever is going to] make offerings
to the gods first [releases] for them a little bird . . . ,

Where wind-augurs observe the pattern of winged flight, &

Clouds scatter
and the birds hush,

Which seemingly echoes Lamantia’s

The language of the birds/ is never spoken,

Which also suggests a sense that

Their gestures speak with deep silence
flying hearts before they take off
and primordial gnosis takes flight

As every flight becomes a resurrection where

After death poetry shall have its morning of birds.

The embedded thematics of uncertain journeys, reflecting primal patterns that influence the landscapes of our acquired spaces, continue to direct our contemporary cultural shuffles. In the aftermath of the post-industrial state-of-malaise we currently are drowning in these days, will we attempt to rebuild a renewed world through the conscious reclaim of our corrupted language? Can poetry remake a world rapidly going to ruin through a fresh awareness of the language fundamentals that have underwritten humanity since ancient times?

To “Dream outside the dream” would be one suggestion towards any realization of what it takes to dream back into focus all that has produced this quotidian blur now engulfing us. Leaning Into The Infinite suggests a way forward, a renewal and return from the dark passages that collectively we have endured throughout our evolutionary stumbles. By chronicling the mythos, along with the pathos, of our human condition, the tribe who we are, both individually & collectively, can slowly rise upon the thermals like the birds. We might likely achieve a higher level through this greater process that could be our destiny. As that avuncular seer would have it,

Put yourself to useful work

and go forward. . . .

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