Sunday, August 20, 2006


JH: Very in your element! Series, then, are a repetition, rather than a continuation? Continuation may be defined as what prolongs the flash, but a flash is a flash for only so long before it becomes a new day. Repetition may be defined as what prolongs that prolongation, the labor (procedure, or the very act of writing) reflecting itself at a certain point (fairly early in the process, I'd say) instead of retaining the flash, as representation is more about the materials of the representation than what is represented. Procedure is an obligation to its work rather than to its assignment. Is the assignment the poetic? The work is utility, and the flash (inspiration) the poetic? The words are a necessary evil that is the sole proof of the flash? The words obscure the flash, making the poem fictional in the process of making a narrative, and in doing so remove all indexes to the flash. So far I've been talking about the individual poem, and not a series. A series would leave the flash initiating the first poem in the series further and further behind with each new poem, logically speaking. But does a series provide more complete evidence of the flash, a fuller picture? Series as Cubism, and the non-serial poem being a scene through a window? New views of the flash with every new entry in the series, with the material obscuring the indexes in previous poems being left behind as individual to those poems? New material (words) cannot conceal the same area of flash in one poem as was concealed in a previous poem in the series. In addition, further poems alter reading of previous poems, and vice-versa. Any poem has its own flash, distinct from the poet's, or so the shape of a poem presents. In a series, this concept of flash (the concept of a poem's, its words', own flash) isn't presented as strongly, since it is weakened by all its instances.

AHB: Interesting how this conversation sounds like physics. series as fireworks. a concatenation of awe and surprise. I think of series in terms of Moebius strips, where physical space loses its safe definition. I recall reading an essay somehow relating poetry to Klein bottles. I say somehow because I lacked (and lack) the physics, or mathematics, to grok the argument. but I appreciated the picture of bent space poetry that I gleaned. a series does seem involved with physical space, how the sections relate. a linear timeline exists, but a 3-D expanse also appears, as each item in the series defines a new core of reaction to the initial impulse. here is another one of your series within a series. you posted this to Wryting-L this week.
The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles


O, the jollity
pleasures mask!
the jollity masked,
also with a dustjacket
of "Pack My Bag"



the waters of Nanterre
(translation of two passages
from Madame de Créquy's
Souvenirs), yes, but there's
turf 'neath your tent,
same as any camper



"Caught" (1943) was designed
to put a lantern in your face -
ah, your face was already day!


why abhor surprise
when it's the sole chimera
Fate provides us?


is not forgetfulness a surprise?
could not oblivion be the pounce
on that monolithic exposed nerve?


all surprises should be filthy with dust



falling stars never look for me,
though "Arcady or A Night Out"
would have them do so



before "Concluding" was
Nature's palmist, this 1948
novel was artifice's psalmist



...besides, "Mr Jonas",
I silent away among names

* * * * *

context determines here. you've placed these poems within the context of the Civil War, so the reader must relate them to the battles (I see an odd epitaph for Stonewall Jackson in Chancellorsville) and the larger context of the Civil War and Henry Green, whatever that relationship is. each poem chooses a different direction. the poem moves in a line (tho the reader can choose to read out of order; my eye naturally would jump to Gettysburg), but each sectional unit also practices its own territory. a chain reaction in which the excitement of each unit joins together as a whole or wholeness defined by the title, the relationship of Henry Green and Civil War battles. I presume there exists a larger context, a gathering of these series of series, which definitely resonates micro/macro.


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