Saturday, August 26, 2006


JH: I agree that all writers should write reviews, whether publicly or privately. I don't write reviews, publicly or privately. My public writings are poems and Antic View entries. My private writings are poems (which are eventually public), emails, and titles of books that I mean to hunt for at libraries or bookstores. If I see a passage I want to revisit in a book I own, I write a page number, and sometimes a keyword, in the inside of the cover. If I see a passage I want to revisit in a book I don't own, I copy the passage in a notebook I use exclusively for copied passages. I often look through this notebook, which is comprised almost entirely of passages on poetry. I particularly enjoy remarks on poetry by people who aren't poets, as I find them largely indistinguishable from remarks on poetry by poets. Perhaps I don't write reviews because I fear this blurring of identities. Does one cease to be a poet when writing of poetry? Writing prose is where poet and non-poet meet, as is reading prose. Poetry is where the non-poet cannot go except as a reader. Does one cease to be a poet when reading poetry? The only two states of a poet being writing poetry and thought unguided by an outside poem (a poem written by someone else) (does reading a poem you've written count as a poem written by someone else?)? Every poet is a compromise with the poet's weaker elements.

AHB: I think I've harped on the writers write reviews bit before, and what I really mean is that conscious evaluation is needed for the writer. this is a constant. which I'm sure you do, whether you write it down or not. I need to write it, otherwise I remain in a sort of inchoate non-verbal glow. poetry absolutely astonishes me, in a baffling way. I cannot write 'privately', not in the sense that I think you mean. always, I'm aware of the Reader, that potential. if not the id then an id. I admire your method of gleaning. I used to do similar, even putting the interesting quotes and phrases that I found into categories. Auden published a nifty commonplace book. I should go back to doing that, as I am a collector of notebooks, always ready for a reason to fill another. you are kinder, by the bye, to your books than I am. I like to annotate, underline and write poems in books (mine only, not library ones). I even kinda appreciate the underlinings in used books that I buy, tho often these are insipid indoctrinations by the teachers. your stance towards poetry is my stance towards writing. well, there is a class of writing that lacks intensity, or crystalline essence: that's prosaic. which is the prose that doesn't exult, I guess. when I write of poetry, it's like looking at a faraway star. it necessitates description, but also this ethereal wonder. poetry, in this simile, is like a closer star, an abstraction of light. so I feel that, yes, the poet still exists when writing of poetry, but it's a cooler activity. I think all I'm writing here confirms your statement that every poet is a compromise with the poet's weaker elements. reading a poem that I've written is indeed a poem written by someone else. anyhoo, a recent poem of yours posted to Wryting-L:

Thus, We Speak of the Language of Hopeful No Return

less placid even is
the face of the ox who drags up the morn,
and more terrible is her placidity:

such peacefulness is remorseless for eternal

with the poem you include this picture. first I'm curious about the picture. it looks like a death mask, perhaps someone I should know (I want to say Goethe), but I don't know. you occasionally include pictures with your work. are the pictures part of the poem or um illustrative?


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