Friday, July 29, 2005


JH: And I had you set up as the thinker! Who's minding the store? My writing arrives fairly quickly, the revising slows it down considerably - sometimes the finished poem is unrecognizable from its first appearance on the page. I don't always know if the first appearance of a poem on the page is unconscious and the revising is rational, or if it's vice-versa. I used to be more prolific than I am now. Now (as of about a year ago) I write about one poem a week. It used to be two or three, typically. All these numbers are but an impression. How about you? We exchange about three collaboration installments a week, so good for us. Oh, let's talk about long poems! You've written some, so have I. You also write sequences (Lenin, Maria Shriver, etc). I don't, unless one wants to count the Virginia poems as a sequence. Do you have any plans to write another long poem or sequence? Is a sequence the same as a long poem, now that I think about it? If not, maybe I've never written a long poem, other than Lives Of Eminent Assyrians. It's tricky for me to say, because in long works I tend to use repetition / patterning. Does such patterning make a long poem, whereas a sequence is just a group of poems around the same theme, landscape, and/ or characters?

AHB: Compared to you, I don't revise at all. I no longer do much more than polish what I wrote in the initial burst. I have trained myself, in a very slow process, in my own particular flow of words. As I think I already mentioned, I date my rebirth in writing poetry to early 1999. I was writing 3-5 poems a day, plus scribbles. When I read Doubt by Jim Leftwich, a strange, daunting and beautiful 500 page monster, I was inspired to write a long poem. This long poem took 14 months and mounded up to nearly 800 pages in Word. I consider it a poem, but it is made of mostly paragraph-sized chunks. It could be seen as a series, but that it possessed a commanding directive in the writing, a wholeness that found completion when I found that I had finished. I like this, for the sense of time that I feel in the writing, in writing over time. Right now is a time of change, distraction, busyness, and weariness for me, so that I cannot conceive of the dedication for a long poem (or sequence), but I look forward to such a possibility. Did I answer whether a sequence is the same as a long poem? I believe sequence=long poem, leastwise can be so. Moby Dick is a sequence consisting of a narrative thread and Melville's astute focusings on facts, philosophy, consideration. The gathering acts as a whole. The patternings that you mention do work towards the unity of a poem, but of course all poets have their interests and concerns, so it is not simply that. That a poet declares that a poem arises from the midst of these parts makes the poem for me. If Virginia Woolf said that The Waves was a poem, I wouldn't argue the point. Do you write towards something? That's a wicked vague question, but I leave you to it. Is there a from as well, and if so, what is its nature?


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