Wednesday, August 17, 2005


JH: Yes, I've read Stephen Ellis, and enjoy his poetry very much. To publish poetry is to add to a reader's store of language and mental environment. Even if a reader hates a poem, this too is fuel for the reader. So it's altruism to publish. One good turn deserves another. Lack of confidence may be more interesting (more can be written about reluctance, I feel, since absence is a larger space), but publication comes about in the end, unless the poems are destroyed. A poem of mine was published online with the spacing of two lines altered. What is lost when a poem's spatial construction is changed? The reading changes, and instead of meeting the eye as a concrete work, a poem presents itself to be read more traditionally, more lyrically. The poem in question isn't very adventurous in spacing, the indention that was lost is only in two lines. I've never had any words altered in an online publication, as it seems to be a matter of cutting and pasting. Once in a print magazine the first or second "r" was dropped from the word "orchard" in one of my poems. But I don't think it mattered too much. I wonder why snobbism in online and self-publishing exists in avant-garde circles, of all places? That's more of a rhetorical question, but still. Perhaps some people are concerned with the permanence of their work, for whatever reason (personal aggrandizement, a desire to have the work reach a wider and supposedly more influential - in a worldly sense - audience, etc). But I think time will change all this. To the youth of today, internet publishing of any kind is quite acceptable. When they grow (or devolve) into adulthood, publishing their poetry online shouldn't be a problem for them. I also think the canon will be changed because of this. What is the prestige of the Norton anthology when there are so many poetry sites? And if the Norton anthology goes online, there will easily be many webpages that are equally or more attractively designed than Norton's. After a certain date, canonization will be a matter of individual and group taste, as it has always been, but without fewer converts via bullying. Before this date, readers will ascribe importance to authors simply because of their canonization in antiquity - but fortunately more forgotten and marginalized texts are being made available online, so even this may be diluted. And who knows what else awaits to help poetry out! Do you feel poetry loses something in publication, as poetry loses something in translation? Is there a more ideal form of publication than books and magazines, whether actual or hypothetical?

AHB: Poetry loses its privacy when published: how's that for an answer? To publish releases the work into readership's consideration. And there the poem changes from a certain thing, into all manner of uncertainty and vexation. As I said earlier, I like the possibilities of doing it yourself. Calligraphy and home made books and such. Admittedly, I have not produced a lot this way, but the intention is there. Robert Grenier's recent work is hand scrawled, presented that way. Grenier was my teacher (Franconia College) at a time when he had not yet determined the form in which his work Sentences would be presented. He had these 5x8 cards with poems on them. One day he took them and pinned them on the wall of a hallway at the school. It was a striking display, and certainly a different consideration of publication. Now there is an online version, or replication, of Sentences, which gives a sense of the boxed poetry collection that Grenier published in 1978. A more ideal form of publication would entail a greater sense of the person who created the work. Not as in personality, we get enough of that, but the nervous machine that puts words down in whatever way. Calligraphy and other visual effects, home made bindings and so forth. Or the possibilities of online, which are myriad. Oh, gosh, I don't know. I am brought to ask about our own collaboration, a work of more than 300 pages, still growing, that we've worked on for 3 ½ years. How should it be brought to the public? Can you envision a print publisher taking a flyer on it? Can you imagine an online presentation? Will we ever finish it? Because of its length, and that neither you or I are named Stephen King, it challenges any form of publication that we might think of.


Post a Comment

<< Home