Wednesday, August 23, 2006


JH: Dreams once affected my poetry more than they do now. Sometimes I would try to describe what I saw in my dreams, sometimes words would come to me in dreams. More often the impetus for poems come from nowhere in my waking hours. The past two months, the impetus for poems come from my series (GRANDUNCLES, and the unnamed series that includes "The Ducks of Cotton Mather"). So yes, my series prepares the land for possibilities. There is less blindness in this seeding than in unmediated inspiration. In pure (unmediated) inspiration—a synonym for, or rather a manifestation of, the poetic?—there is more compression than in the mechanical function of series or procedural work. The famous compression of poetry! Is the compression of poetry an illusion, of poetry or the poet, masking approximation? The varying blindnesses of the poet that allows the imaginary to be written in the face of the known is passed on to the reader via the poem. Mechanics beyond what's unavoidable in the act of writing poetry (the unavoidable being words and prior writing habits or the reaction against these habits) widen the poem rather than compress it. The poetic itself is flattened against the procedural, against the thematic (of the series). Compression, then, as loss. What does this waste of poetry entail? Inspiration as a spur to poetry becomes poetry (previous entries in the series, or procedural templates) as a spur to writing? Do you think that a certain amount of the poetic is lost in the writing, in any writing, even the most purely inspired? There are two kinds of the poetic, the written and the unwritten? The written poetic would be the revelation arriving on the page instead of in the mind, as in a dream in both instances. The unwritten poetic would be what rushes the poet to the page. When both the written and unwritten poetic occur in the same poem, do they have anything to do with each other? In other words, do they come from the same source? If a nonverbal and imageless inspiration sends the poet to the page, where the written poetic then appears, is this anything other than coincidence? Would both kinds of poetic in the same poem widen the poem, or compress it still further? Words by definition (ha) widen the blank space, and words by definition compress a thought into a row of letters. How to make a common word unique to poetry—is this a function of the sentence (a string of words) or the line (a string of words in movement—would love to hear your thoughts on this parenthetical definition of the line. The eye moves a sentence in order to read it, but the line has a different motion - yet there's incidental enjambment in prose of any considerable length. One object of my GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE is to create some poems within the series that address the movement of line and sentence)? Both, no doubt - I feel that I originally intended "the sentence or a line" to be a set in opposition to something I forgot while writing the parenthetical matter separating them. The line/sentence creates a new word, as does the poem (the poem being the only place where that line/sentence could exist). This would logically seem to be an elongation rather than a compression, but the new word, created by the poem, refers only to itself, and is not used in prosaic commerce. So its use is particular.

You recently reviewed five books for Galatea Resurrects

Anny Ballardini

Stephen Ellis

Jon Leon

Ernesto Priego

Mark Lamoureux

Great reviews - I look forward to reading many more from you! Any background on these reviews you'd like to share? What are your thoughts on writing reviews - how, or is, writing reviews different from blog, interview, or essay writing?

AHB: I love the depth of your explanations. I can't match that. The unwritten poem bothers me. it floats away from one's grasp. seemingly like every work is a compromise with weaker elements. Before I read Magic Mountain, I had this image that I could not really put to words. MAGIC and MOUNTAIN evoke something beautiful, poetic and impossible, and I had this picture of of of... something. I liked the novel, especially that unnerving final image of ghostly Hans Castorp, but it was 'just a story'. In the same way, these poetic energies arise, but what goes onto the page seems less than I imagined. regarding line, when I lineate, I feel a musical precision occurs. or if not occurs (that's presumptuous), then at least the music is a major insistence. by music I mean a complication of time, where the reader enters a fluid expanse, registered by the least syllable and letter, and how meaning dazzles that. My ear in this is almost surgically adapted from Creeley. The line, of course, has a visual tempo as well as its function in beat. whereas the sentence offers a completion (or suggestion thereof), a semantic whole. the reviews are just reactions, and I will be so bold as to accept several meanings for just. I try to register something interesting and effective in what I read. Eileen Tabios has a nice project in Galatea Resurrects, offering space for reviews. she even will send review copies (which she has accrued) to prospective reviewers. I asked to do some, a lark. I'd bought Ernesto's book, Stephen (whose work I don't mind championing) had given me his, and the other three came from Eileen. I asked for Anny and Mark, and Eileen suggested Jon, whose work I didn't previously know. my goal isn't to explain the books, nor to suggest a complete reading. I just want to note what caught my attention. I think all writers should write reviews. by this I mean formally commit to the process of evaluation. whether these are published or remain journal jottings, it seems like a good exercise. I've written on my blog that everything I write there includes a question mark. however declarative I may be, I'm still just poking at the thing. I'm not against negative reviews, but criticism (one sees it all the time) in which there's a momentum of style, the Joan Houlihan School of Snide Rebate, that's just gamesmanship. I don't mind not getting it.a publisher once told me, if he didn't understand a work, he wanted to publish it. that strikes me as an excellent basis. do you ever write reviews or reactions, for yourself if not for John and Jane Q?can you describe the tension between your writing and The Other?


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Anny Ballardini said...

Thank you for all your attention, I don't know if I deserve it.

I was wondering, Allen, Eileen sent you a copy of my book? I never sent Eileen any copies... if I understand right, I am sorry and will let her have one,

thank you for the unexpected review, a surprise I just had through Bill Allegrezza's blog that brought me to GalateaResurrects,



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