Thursday, October 27, 2005


JH: It concerns me, yes. The Mr. Hyde is when too much of me fiddles with the poem as it's being written - the editor emerging too early. It's easy for me to get stuck on a line instead of going forward when this happens. I wrote "too much of me", which strikes me (how much of me is stricken though?) as suggesting a part (as in a single part, more than as in percentage) that does the initial writing. Instead of the poem coming from a mental archive that is then shaped into something singular, could it be something singular that is then added to from a storehouse of material in order to make it more recognizable to the reader, and more recognizable to the author, who can then add more or clip some to make it closer to the original singular?

AHB: There's an original poem somewhere (inside? Outside?) that claims its space, finds a writer to write it, in the process of which, confuses or overwhelms the writer, who of course has other things in mind, who has to carry the beautiful image of said writer amidst the other writers and other people with whom the writer remains or gathers, meanwhile the poem is unsure, itself, of this and that, the living quotient of indications and suggestions, and the eager life of living, with words and on, thus the poem in its terrible resumptions pursues its own life upon a page that is merely a screen in the mind of whoever possible...and I only became a writer because I became a writer...

Sunday, October 23, 2005


JH: I don't think I have that citizen - is this something like the Mr Hyde side of the Ideal Reader? Do you write with an Ideal Reader in mind or an Ideal Author? With me, it's the Ideal Author, who definitely has a Mr Hyde side. I've a vague sense of an ideal reader, someone well-read and forgiving, but mostly I write with an idea of an author. Is the idea of author really that of a (mental, and habitual) action, or of a text referred to in the author's mind - a constantly allusive text? If a text, did you compose it, and how much?

AHB: I was thinking about aspects of careermindedness as they relate to writing, as in: what are people thinking of me, but you raise a curious possibility: the Ideal Author. I suppose Blake meant as much with his Authours in Eternity. Or else some perfectable sense of one's obligation as a writer. Those don't seem to be my terms. I think I write to an Ideal Reader, whoever that might be. The idea of author is both a habitual and, haha, mental action, but allusive text: yes! That constant allusion brings one forth: yes again! I couldn't measure how much a text is 'mine', not in the sense of consciously bumping it into shape. Aside from channeling Martians or angels, writers also channel texts that they've read, dare I say misread? And the Reader's import has to be mixed in. I'd just say it's a complex process for which I get the credit. Does this Mr Hyde you admit to bother, scare, concern you at all?

Friday, October 21, 2005


JH: Thanks for the background on "Contents Of Lenin Trial"! I agree that the Apollonian and Dionysian meet within both of us. I think all approaches are born of thought - emotional and spiritual approaches as well as intellectual approaches. By thought I mean Mind. I see literature as something that places these categories outside of the individual, in order that they can be both confused and separated (naming separates, yet also allows something to disappear within a hail of fellow words). Sometimes I am surprised by what I write, it seems to come from someone else. Does this happen to you? I've thought that instead of an individual author tapping into some sort of collective unconscious, there's often the case that a poet is just a random instance of a human and something specific taps into the poet. We've got at the issue of radio angels before in Antic View, and this topic may be related.

AHB: I think it is all I can do to indicate the background of a poem that I've written. The method I've chosen, and the circumstances surrounding the poem's writing. I have no idea beforehand. The only reason I believe such a method works resides in my feeling that I have trained myself in this way. But anyway, I feel like something specific taps into me, at least at times. By the same token, I feel the very unspecific as well, insofar as I recognize the effort and intention of certain poets and their works, thru my having suffered the same effort and intention. For instance, Whitman's stupid poems, the ones where he's trying to force the poetic issue. Been there, done that, sympathize and empathize with the instinct and urge. What now would be called flarfy experimentation (received text) has right along been a tool for me to get a different line to those radio angels, as a means to get away from that over-invested, concerned citizen of Poetry Land. Does that internal concened citizen of Poetry Land bother you much? Mostly, that person does not bother me, but sometimes...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


JH: When writing the poem I thought of Blake's "Introduction" to "Songs of Innocence":

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

'Pipe a song about a Lamb!'
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper, pipe that song again.'
So I piped: he wept to hear.

'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!'
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

'Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.'
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

The piping and the reference to water in both poems struck me, so I combined the two Blake lines for my title. "The Echoing Green" is just one poem over (I couldn't just close the book, and spent a few hours reading Blake poems), and it was in keeping with the echoing of our words. There's also a Tennyson reference - "volleying and / thundering" echoing "Cannon to right of them, / Cannon to left of them, / Cannon in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd" from ""The Charge of the Light Brigade". Light Brigade

The lines came to mind when I introduced the calvary in the poem. Allusion in this poem goes with the theme, as does the fact that the two poets alluded to are very disparate.

The syntax shows that it is the dove that is a live sign, and that either the dove or its cruel loves (the "cruel loves" could float free of previous reference, or could refer to motives in dropping the seed, if indeed the drop was intentional - such extra-literary speculations have a place in poetry, for why should all the narration be the poet's?) is a calvary. That the "another's" in "another's, greensward, dream" refers, by syntax, to the drowning man is debatable, but it was my intention. The drowning man dreams of dry land, the greensward. A seed ideally, Nature's ideal, is to fall on dry land, but here it falls, accidentally or by design, next or upon a drowning man -- "with a show so vast is a green charm assured / only to the green eye?". But with that last sentence I'm straying past a syntax toward explication. The "greensward" is an interpolation that could have been put more syntactically proper - something like ""thundering into another's dream of the greensward" (yet with this example much of the meaning is lost). The jolt of "greensward" in this poem may be that it seems like a word out of nowhere inserted into the poem, yet it does fit with the content. The Parenthetical As Blip, or, The Parenthetical As Not-Parenthetical, or, The Paratax That Ne'er Was. Let's talk about your "Contents Of Lenin Trial".

Contents of Lenin Trial

This is an excellent sequence! Characters include Aristotle, Hegel, James Bond, John Ashbery, Bond girls, Gertrude Stein, George W Bush, and Lenin. And these are characters, not references! Please say something about this poem, which I think is one of your best.

AHB: 1st let me self-correct. On the album of Ginsberg's renderings of Blake's poems into songs, it is “The Grey Monk” that has Elvin Jones (and Don Cherry) providing such wonder. Your explication is fascinating. You are much more conscious of your poetic process than I am. I write from a state of thoughtlessness. When I read poetry, I do so in perhaps an unintellectual way. I ride the feeling. Which is not to say that you don't, but I don't puzzle. I am content within the mystery, if strongly felt. I write the same way. I don't know if I should puzzle more. I can and do break poems down, not my own, to see how the elements work, just as when one listens to music carefully one one tries to hear each instrument and each part of the whole. The Lenin poems are a confluence. We went to visit Beth's mother on the Jersey shore. I brought for reading matter Hegel, Aristotle, Ashbery (Flow Chart) and Lenin. Erin immersed himself in a James Bond Week on tv, so I absorbed that. And the shore itself, which I visited several times a day. All these elements as tributaries into the poem. Very much as if I were conduit. But I would remember to return to Lenin or Bond, to maintain that sense of texture. I am conscious as I write. I think your process and mine are similar in the way we, as writers, try to create and maintain a poetic gravity around which (am I forcing this metaphor?) the poem forms. Your process is thoughtful and mine thoughtless. Your thoughtfulness does not preclude the inchoate mysteries of the imagination, nor does my thoughtlessness preclude a dynamic thinking. In both our cases, a meeting of the Apollonian and Dionysian. Do you think so?

Saturday, October 15, 2005


JH: I write more with the sense of "falling into place" - that there's a spot open Somewhere, no matter how humble, that I happen to fill with the poem. Maybe radio angels have something to do with this - but I feel much the same way as when I find money on the sidewalk. Sometimes I find a penny, sometimes a twenty-dollar bill. I've yet to find a sack of gold, figuratively or literally, but there's always five minutes from now. I also like Rilke's Letter to a Young Man - what would be some of the pointers you would include in a letter to a young poet?

AHB: Falling into rather than receiving is an interesting perspective. Rilke kind of makes you think that you're not a poet unless you have asthma, it's a weird intensity or necessity. His letters to what's his name are generous, to the point that the recipient almost feel unworthy. And when the recipient admits to having swerved from the path of poetry later in life, as he notes in his introduction to the letters, there's a touch of guilt in the air. I've read many of the responses to the question 'How would you explain a poem to a seven year old?' at Here Comes Everybody. how to flail variously. I understood till I was about 15 that a poem was something to bore kids with in English class, so don't bug me man. Well seriously, I don't know what I would recommend for a young poet except to keep going and read curiously. Not too interesting. I could offer writers who were important to me, but they mightn't work for the young poet. Perhaps against what people might expect from him, Robert Grenier recommended that I read O'Hara and Koch when I was a young poet, that these writers would be useful in the direction I seemed to be going. The advice I try to give myself as an old poet is to mess around, disrupt my normalcy and such. Avoid the dicta of what poetry is.

If you don't mind, I would you like to discuss a poem you losted yesterday to the Wryting list.

The Echoing Green, My Piping Stains The Water Clear

me, I'm piping happy to be mirrored in complaint,
like a dove that drops a seed to a drowning man:
a live sign with cruel loves, a calvary volleying and
thundering into another's, greensward, dream ---
with a show so vast is a green charm assured
only to the green eye? vast as black, as blue, this
green charm now I pipe happily to drowny-blue complaint

I like Blake's poem from which this one derives (if derive is the correct word: is it?). Allen Ginsberg set it to music nicely, tho it was Elvin Jones' drumming that gave it to he angels. I note the jolt, or what is a jolt for me, of greensward, for it is a syntactical surprise. Can you speak of the motion of the poem, for I see a tension against its formal logic, as if a poem by Donne were jostled sharply. I like the colours, which are crammed with import.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


JH: I don't think a writer needs to be consciously epical to produce an epic, any more than one needs to be programmatically surrealist in order to write surrealist poetry. I'm not writing in MONSTER with the idea of epic. I didn't start out with the idea of epic, rather. I like how a text is out of the writer's hands (I initially wrote "reader's hands" - which is equally, if not more, true) once it arrives to the reader. A reader may assign the term "epic" to MONSTER, and indeed MONSTER in time may develop epic traits. Perhaps a long work "naturally" assumes these characteristics? When does the picturesque / episodic become the epic? Is it a matter of opinion, except for those works that are clearly (classically) epic? Speaking of long projects, and Digital Cellular Phone, could you write something about Digital Cellular Phone?

AHB: The picturesque / episodic becomes epic when the intensity coheres. The tale grew in the telling, said Tolkien about The Hobbitt, or maybe it was the trilogy. The writing reached a point of intensity and seriousness for Tolkien, not mere tales to tell the offspring, and the story became epic. DCP is something that grew in telling. Growing in fact from the title, which had pregnant implications for me. It is another attempt by me to write a daily project. Now, I write daily as a matter of course, thru thick or thin, but it is difficult to maintain focus on a single extensive project. It means I mull it thru out the day, it means I look forward to when I can write more, it means accepting the challenge amidst the distractions of life. I've been reading Rilke's Letter to a Young Man, and feel his utterly romantic view of writing. Rilke's a bit hyper something-or-other in his presentation, but his sense of commitment rings favourably with me. DCP repersents an attempt to maintain my commitment to the work. The title page lists where it was written, which includes the house in which Beth's father died (we were there cleaning it out). I like that sense of place and of process evident. Somewhere in the midst of its writing, I think I decided to put it online, so the challenge of learning how to do that (rudimentarily, I know) was a hidden part of the process. Anyway, tangent-time, I was just thinking of Rilke in his tower, Yeats in his, Jung in his, and you could add Dedalus and Mulligan in theirs, and one could infer a sort of radio network up there. Do you ever write 'like that'? I mean, do you sense writing angels, or radio waves of creative energy, or connection to the empyrean? I'm serious, tho the tower image came to me in a humourous way.

Monday, October 10, 2005


JH: I haven't really considered flarf as a technique, though I enjoy reading flarfwerk. And, to belatedly answer a previous question, I don't have any technique recommendations. The closest I come to procedure is anaphora. I use anaphora more in our collaboration than in my solo writing. As Poe pointed out, long poems (epics were his example) must have barren stretches, and anaphoric passages is one way to fill this in - filler as individual-yet-related poem (that phrase, "individual-yet-related poem", could serve as Poe's definition of the highlights of an epic) But our poem is far from what Poe was thinking about (or writing about, who knows what he foresaw?). Is our poem an epic?

AHB: Anaphora works well as a rhythmic interstice. Allen Ginsberg used it a lot. I really like Poe and his nervous erudition. I don't recall having read his point about long poems before, but it's a weirdly sensible acceptance of the problems of epic. Of which I really know little. Epic seems to mean long, a work of expanse. In that sense, at least, MONSTER, our collaboration is epic. I would think that epic also means a work that comprises 'so much', and I would say ours does, being a freewheeling improvisation. But I am not working within the idea of epic as I write it, certainly not in the way that Olson was with Maximus. Are you? “Individual yet related poem” is how I see much of my work. I guess I have to point to Digital Cellular Phone, in that it is accessible (yay Internet) and is 'pieced together'. I would quote from Baudelaire's intro to his Poemes En Prose if I could dig the book out, the image of a chopped up snake that he brings forth. So is out poem epic? Need the writer be epical (as Olson, for one, kinda seemed to be, as 'he' comes down to us) to produce an epic?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


JH: With me, it's a matter of immersion. I like Kunin's lively "The Mauberley Series". Your "House of Sorted Things Left After My Dad" is excellent - I really like your take on flarf - traditional flarf(!) for me works better in drama. I especially like the episode in your poems with the pregnant woman raising toad-like eyes to Minerva. The episode takes five lines (and immediately leads, instanter, to an insight provided by her "yes, I just learned then / that love is stronger" which is then intertwined with the further narration "She's on her path, just like me..." and narration featuring the speaker
"I sought on my plan: House of Childbirth" - related, in my mind, to the pregnant woman. It's the first mention of the narrator's plan, giving me the impression the narrator's plan was inspired by the sight of the gravid lady - much like the sudden directions a poet's mind takes when writing a poem, driven on by the content of seemingly any given line), and three sentences. How does episode react with, and against, the line? I mean this in general, though providing these lines as an example would be great. Do you typically write with episode and line as two separate functions, concentrating more on one over the other? In your poems they seem to have equal attention lavished upon them. And do you think that the longer you spend on flarf procedures in a poem, refining the poem, that the poem grows more personal, almost to the point where it could have, eventually, been conceived by your mind alone, with the exception of a few phrases - the flarf (or any) procedure assuming the function of a poetic vocabulary?

AHB: I think the point is to write so that the procedure disappears. well, of course it doesn't, and for those with a technical interest, they are going to foreground (I hate that verb) the procedure in a way that a non-writer probably wouldn't. A LANGUAGE poem or a flarf one is just a poem if one reads it as a poem and not as an exemplar. I do not know Gary Sullivan's work well (tho I enjoy it immensely), but can attest that his flarfy work seems to arrive fluidly from him. Whereas for me, who is just messin' with these techniques, the effort of writing shows (did I get the verb agreement right?). Working with flarf procedures (and it is presumptuous for me to attach myself in that way to the mode, I am largely just guessing at what 'they' are doing), I want the writer to disappear. Which is no different than if I'm typing great gulfs of words at hyper speed. I think (who the hell knows?) that I write with episode and line separate. I follow the rail of the idea, but also focus on the line's local meaning. I'm doing now what I did when I first started typing my work: I am lineating after the fact. I write in a block then form the lines. which isn't an intrinsic method, but allows me to focus on one thing at a time. I may've said that I had trouble when i first started using a computer. The rush of the keyboard obviated my ability to make lines. I've overcome that difficulty over the years but it remains an element of writing with the computer keyboard. You are, by the way, right about the drama quality of flarf. Flarf consists of these disparate voices, so it plays well into drama. Have you considered flarf as a technique? You have indicated an interest in drama.


JH: It's a mystery to me what actual motives or drives lie behind how people think (much less poets!) - but I'll say that hinting at these motives, drives, or other unseens, without actually knowing what you're hinting at - or even what the hint really is (the hint becoming an object in itself instead of the shadow of what your alluding to) - is what a particular type of poem is -- some say pure poetry, others term it classic poetry -- a particular type of poem I hunt for in my reading and writing. Is this what you aim for in writing poetry - as a reply to an interview question, that is; I realize that poems often have a mind of their own. Is it the poems that have a mind of their own, or is it the space of writing a poem? Your mention of clichés leads me to ask if you ever draw on established poetic vocabularies for your own poems? I've done this with English poetry of 16th to 19th century poetry.

AHB: I don't think I ever draw on established poetic vocabularies in my poems, except in quotation. Sometimes I quote (often an embedded quote: no quote marks but pretty obvious) or refer to established poetries. We both seem to be circling the idea of Negative Capability. I sense an intention to remain resolved, to be there, in the activity of the poem. Which again sounds like larded hooey, but we must allow ourselves to believe what we do. Keats' phrase says to me: go forth bravely and tenderly, however I underlyingly feel. Here is a poem I wrote last night as a flarf exercise. It's fun to play this way. I took a paragraph from Nietzsche, in German, used Babelfish and Google searches to create a text in which I found resonances that I worked to make clearer. It was like reading Tarot, where the pictures on the cards seem to give different meanings according to how or what you feel.I carried something into the creation of that text (my father's death) that I didn't realize was there when I began. The poem is not about my father's death, but his death influenced it. Bt the bye, if anyone thinks flarf is an easy exercise, try it sometime and see hwo it compares to the work of Gary Sullivan or the other flarfists. How did you draw on the vocabulary of earlier poetries? Is it a matter of immersion, or do you mechanically save out words and phrases that you will use. Have you ever written in such a way? I'm suddenly remind of Aaron Kunin's Mauberly Series, which boasts (!) a limited vocabulary. Recommended at any rate. Any recommendations for me of recent work around?

Monday, October 03, 2005


JH: I like to witness interesting things too, especially when they appear beneath my pencil. I was talking about consciousness, and you answered it well: sure, witness, thoughts, identifying, interesting, absorb, look, symbol, unnerving, scared, bejesus, having, hold on, preparing, think, suppose, hours, day, writing, feel, enumerate, ways, detach, etc, etc. I sometimes feel like a writer when the pen is not in my hand, but mostly like a reader in search of texts, which often leads to the act of writing. I was going to add "like" to the above list and got sidetracked by thoughts of simile. What are your thoughts on simile, metaphor, and analogy? The key to poetry? Is all literature ultimately comparison? Or untimely comparison? Does time, in the sense of timely, what is contextually apt, play the most important part in allusion?

AHB: When I'm doin' nuthin', like walking the dog, waiting in a waiting room, riding a bus or plane, I 'write', which is to say think 'about' things. I wanted to add that, that my mind chatters away like that. As does everyone's, but there's a sort of professional status to it for me, and presumably other writers. I know that wariness is in order with comparisons. For one thing, the good ones become cliched as easy as kiss my hand, and for a 2nd thing, they may not mean what was intended. A lot of crummy poetry (School of Quietude, I daresay) seems to wallow in what I can only assume is unconsidered similes. These similes live only for cheesy rupture in expectation (cheesy because it is no rupture, it's part of a literary form) they provide. But for all that, I love similes and metaphors. Or, at least, I love those that set me back on my heels. I do not enjoy symbols, find them an attempt at control that I think writers are not capable of. Or few can handle with complete resilience and resonance. Reading Mallarme, which I've done in the original as well as in translation, I feel like I'm missing something. Much of that owes to my ability with French, and that of the translators, but it's also my sensitivity to symbols. I rather like Mallarme even so, but clearly aint his best reader. If my own writing has resonance, it would be because of a metaphorical sort of emotional connection. That the poem is an emotional moment, passed from or thru me to the reader. Not that the poem is an emotion, but the words so gathered are a reflection. I hate getting into these territories because it so often sounds hokey. But I am witness to the emotion I felt in writing, and also to the emotion witnessed in reading. Emotion being the carrying energy, and not so simply happiness, sadness, anger or such. The artistic transfer proceeds thru such metaphor. I think. Do you?

Saturday, October 01, 2005


JH: We've written about how our lives and reading influence our writing. What about vice-versa? How has your writing and reading influenced your life - in particular, do you see and think about things through ink? If so, do the literary thoughts happen simultaneously with the perception / thought or is there a lag? A lengthy lag? Consistently or sporadically? I'm not so much speaking of an idea for a poem, but whether you assign a set of words, phrases, or sentences to a sight or thought? Does the assigning come from without, according to a particular method currently guiding your writing, or is it free association? Consistently or sporadically? Have you ever evolved a method, not so much the "physical" form of the poem, via this on-spot free association?

AHB: I'm not sure if I can answer your question. I think the literary thoughts mostly happen when I write. I like to witness interesting things, which sounds prosaic. I think I actively try not to process the interesting things beyond identifying them as, er, interesting. I stand on the seashore, for instance, and absorb the scene. I don't look at the sea as a symbol of death, or whatever, tho I often find it unnerving (The Perfect Storm scared the bejesus out of me, tho having seen the movie didn't stop me from reading the book). I just try to absorb and hold on as much as I can. I think the other 22 hours of the day when I'm not writing, I am preparing to, tho I don't suppose those 22 are billable hours. I feel like the writer is always nearby in the day but I can't eumerate the ways. I don't even know how to detach that writer from the rest of me. What about you? Do you feel actively like a writer when pen is not in hand? Oh wait, Henry James dictated his later works. Are you talking about consciousness here?