Vieira, John

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Vieira, John

PERSONAL:

Born in Lowell, MA; son of George Vieira and Irene Taylor; married Cynthia Schaller, March 24, 1987. Education: Boston College, B.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC, and New York, NY. Office—P.O. Box 59243, Potomac, MD 20859-9243. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Broadcast archivist, television news, 1987—.

WRITINGS:

POETRY

Look Away, a Valentine, Firefly Press (Cambridge, MA), 1982.

Jack's Picture of Sunshine, Early Man Productions (Newton, MA), 1985.

Slow Moving Pictures, Score Press (Pullman, WA), 1993.

Rainfall Data at Ocala, Artemis Press (Corning, NY), 1993.

A Songbird in Igor's Yard, Tel-Let Press (Charleston, IL), 1994.

(Translator) Ikkyu, Threading the Needle with Red, Tel-Let Press (Charleston, IL), 1994.

For [Da], Tel-Let Press (Charleston, IL), 1995.

Reality Slices, Runaway Spoon Press (Port Charlotte, FL), 1996.

Self-Portrait with Demons, Runaway Spoon Press (Pot Charlotte, FL), 1997.

HALF LIFE, Score Press (Pullman, WA), 1999.

Points on a Hazard Map, Runaway Spoon Press (Port Charlotte, FL), 1999.

Long Shot: An Autobiography of a Distant Friend, Score Publications (Moscow, ID), 2005.

Contributor of poetry and essays about poetry to magazines, including AGNI, Bitter Oleander, Many Mountains Moving, and Rolling Stone.

SIDELIGHTS:

John Vieira told CA: "As a very young man I was influenced by the work of Jack Kerouac (to which I had easy access at my hometown library, since he came from the same town)—its broad spirit and courage to digress. But I noticed, at the same time, how my schooling wasn't telling me anything really having to do with that, with ‘spirit.’ As a young man, I was also in the process of relinquishing my childhood religion for pretty much that same reason; thus finding myself, even as a very young writer, already in a crisis of purpose in my writing! In the midst of this I happened upon a lecture by Gertrude Stein, ‘What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There So Few of Them,’ in which she talks about (true) creating occurring in a state of entity (vs. identity): ‘The thing one gradually comes to find out is that one has no identity that is when one is in the act of doing anything.’ And, even as a young writer I already knew something of this: how easily ‘I’ could get in the way and ruin a piece of work.

"My poetry ‘sources’ include Zukofsky, Creeley, Olson, Corman, Robert Lax, Jonathan Williams, Mallarmé, Sappho, Pound, William Carlos Williams, St. John of the Cross, Hafiz, the Ch'an and Zen literati (including drawings), Mirabai, Appollinaire, Stein, ee cummings, Lord Buckley, Kerouac, Cocteau (drawings), Dom Sylvester Houedard, Henry Miller, Bly, Bhatrihari, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Jung Kwang, Dick Higgins, Merton, Ed Sanders, and Frost.

"Pound's Cathay and The Cantos, with his use of Chinese characters, and his essay and other work with Fenollosa, probably began most seriously my working in concrete and visual poetry. What was significant of that for me was how Chinese characters and, indeed, even entire (ancient) Chinese poems evoke (cohere through coexistence) more than state (via grammatical and other linear demands). And translating ancient Chinese poems and working in verbal-visual poetry has been in many respects the same challenge for me: investigating a poetics that does not force the superimposition of the conceptual mind upon the world-reality perceived and participated in. And, of course, as I try to point out in my essay ‘Ecstatic Writing: An Appeal for the Reclamation of Poetry,’ these issues go deeper than mere concerns of poetics, moving into point of view, lifestyle, and even being itself.

"As for the actual pieces themselves, the making of them, I've learned over the years to not think about it, to simply surrender to the process of making them and into the mystery of that process; to just continually find and hang onto that something (instead of thinking) at the core of my working that is being given to me in the moment and just go with that—one could call it ‘grace.’ And whether an actual poem or piece will come out of it at the end is not known before or while working (or even sometimes after!). This ceases to be of that much importance. Of course, this is easier to state than it is to do, and this is perhaps why the use of the term ‘grace’ is indicated—if not straight out necessary. This surrendering to a greater process (when at my sincerest in it) is for me the palpable fruit of working.

"In retrospect I can see that while still a young writer I had the great benefit of living at a large retreat center in the hills of northern California, The Mountain of Attention Sanctuary, working as a groundskeeper, and studying and living the Way of Adidam—a complete way of life given by the Avataric Great Sage, Adi Da Samraj. There is no other writer or person who has so significantly served me—by his mere being and by his many writings, including (in my considered and settled feeling) his literary masterpiece, The ‘First Room’ Trilogy. The presence of Adi Da in my life and the influence of his writing has always only continued to further instigate and serve in me the themes I outline here."