Wednesday, July 27, 2005


JH: Yes, Mr. Kite in a way - it was a poem titled "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Hole". Virginia is the figure (trope / character) that appears most often in my poems. How am I to explain Virginia? My trying to write of her in expository fashion results in broken sentences... perhaps she's better left in poems. Herr Bibliothekarius (which could be translated as Mr. Library) is a literary man, sometimes an author, sometimes a reader solely. He's been in about a dozen poems (Virginia has been in a few hundred, but I created Herr Bibliothekarius in November of 2004). William Wormswork is more of a presence in our collaboration than in my solo poems (I've written about 30 Wormswork poems. I created William Wormswork in March 2003). In our collaboration, MONSTER, Wormswork is a very Protean figure, as is Ophelia and the rest. Incidentally, in one of my poems there are the lines "Virginia being Virginia elsewhere is /another word altogether / for Wormswork". Mr. Hole is another of my characters who appears more in our collaboration than in my solo poems. I've written maybe a dozen Mr. Hole poems. I created him in March 2003. He first appeared in a William Wormswork poem, and I don't think he's shared one of my poems with Wormswork since. Mr. Hole is another character that crops up often in MONSTER, often in the company of William Wormswork. R.H. Raven Toes (born September 2003) is another character of mine, he's appeared in maybe seven poems. Queen Nab (born October 2003) has appeared in three poems, and I definitely want to write more Queen Nab poems in the future. There's a lot of one-shot characters in my poems, much like in MONSTER. Speaking of characters in MONSTER, could you write of how you see the function of characters in MONSTER, and why some characters make it and some disappear (or haven't re-appeared so far, that is). And could you write of Ophelia, who in my mind is one of the main characters ("main" meaning getting the most appearances and development) in the poem?

AHB: I like characters and see them as these formalized entities that react to protean world. That's why I like to throw together known characters, be they Lenin, John Ashbery or James Bond. My series of poems now appearing in Muse Appreciation Guild--here: is the link, and a nice piece of self-promotion on my part--has all of them swirled together. You think of the characters in your poems as protean, and I find that it is the situations that are changeable. Wormswork, natch, brings Wordsworth to mind. Who I like, but who is a fuddy duddy in his elder state. Virginia evokes on many levels. Our collaboration began in March 2003, so it interests me that several of your characters (which also appear in MONSTER) began at the same time. You are more tenacious with your characters than I am. You also know when these characters began, which I wouldn't be able to tell with most of mine. That will be a recurrent theme here, that I am not really that thoughtful about writing. I'm kinda ready to ask how prolific you are, but that's a fairly meaningless query. You seem, let us say, persistent. Anyway, to answer you, Ophelia is a touching character, especially as Hamlet is such a fink. I think of her mostly in the gooey pre-Raphaelite vision (John Millais, isn't it, who painted her drowned in the pool?), thinking how Rossetti went to the trouble of digging up his wife's grave to get back the poems (I think) that he buried with her. I'm gabbling here. I'm sure you brought Ophelia into MONSTER but she resonated with me. For my part, characters would return more often if I could remember them. Often the writing of MONSTER is a time-squeezed thing for me, and I am unable to search thru what we've written in an attempt to continue a thread. So that's the lame truth. But some characters have legs and want to remain. I've set up the dichotomy of you as thinker and me as not. I like to portray my writing as typing as fast as I can. Is it a more considered activity for you? I'm not saying I don't consider my work--of course I do--but in the act it is a blind faith. How about you?


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