Wednesday, October 05, 2005


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 clich├ęs 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?


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