Wednesday, December 14, 2005


JH: I've never had the opportunity to read what a non-poet may have written about my work. And vocally, on the rare occasions a non-poet speaks of my work, it's just to say they liked a certain poem - I don't really get a lot of vocal feedback (even though one of my readers is a professor of philosophy, with an emphasis on poststructuralism). What do you say to non-poets who are heavy on the "non" side and light on the "poet" side when poetry, your own or otherwise, comes up? Here I'm thinking of people who don't read a lot of poetry.

AHB: I say little. Even when they 'get' the poem, it is often still as if the writer of said poem were somehow different. And I am, but only in so far as I've commited to this enterprise of poetry. I suppose I have the same feeling toward someone who makes their own furniture or knits on a grand scale, or whatever creative activity. That commitment to the work creates a sort of awe. Beyond that, it's hard to talk to people who haven't immersed themselves in poetry, haven't a sense of the extent. I hope that aint sulkiness talking. here's a poem from Fickleyes, Futilears, & WilliamWormswork, your book, that is:

The dead Sun is only a phantasy

the last time I spoke to Swedenborg
he said that in Heaven I'm represented
by what appears to be
the dental X-ray of a prehistoric beast,
which is pretty neat if you like
dental X-rays of prehistoric beasts
I totally forgot to ask him if "Jeff,
you're represented by... "meant
the dental X-ray is my agent of
some sort, or if that's what I'm
going to look like, because Emmanuel
always gets his times mixed up (as bad
as a kid hearing multiplication tables)
maybe by "prehistoric" he meant that's
what I used to look like at one time
and that's what I look like eternally
I always read a lot into my conversations
with Swedenborg, I'm still shy around
him, I guess, starstruck or something,
he never seems that way around me,
which I must chalk up to enlightenment

this is a funny, slippery poem, and it has this Jeff character in it. do whimsy and Swedenborg go together?


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