Wednesday, September 06, 2006


JH: Yes, I can see them twining. Duncan had the right idea. To put entries in an ongoing series in collections of various poems leaves the series more open. Books as ellipsis points. When I post a poem to the Wryting list, or any list, it has been completed, except for when I go back to change one or two things - such as the title of "Thus, We Speak of the Language of Hopeful No Return". The Wryting list does not bear on my procedure, except as publication. Were there no internet, they would just pile up in a box to be published later in a book and/or singly in magazines. I don't envision publishing a complete collection of the nameless series full of names ("The Ducks of Cotton Mather" being a poem in this series), or having every single poem in this series scattered through several books. It interests me to see how many poems could be omitted with a series still retaining whatever it had to offer (see Antic View 85). If a series of poems is offered complete, is it still a series? Isn't it rather a poem? A long poem? Any long poem, and a series read consecutively or entire counts as a long poem, could do without certain lines - and have lines added to it. So, does presenting a series incomplete prevent it from being a long poem? One could track down every single poem in the series, and still be unconvinced that the poet doesn't have others. The Faerie Queene is incomplete, yet is still a long poem. So the omission of entries in a series more resembles the omission of lines in a lyric poem? If the reader wasn't aware that poems were missing from the series, it's unlikely that the incompletion would be a factor in the reading. So why are all the entries in a series needed? Why would the omission of any entries matter? If one or two entries that were to take the series in a new direction were omitted the series would still be a series. What is the minimum number of poems to make a series? I believe three is the minimum number for a pattern. I think in patterns when it comes to series. So why not just three poems per series? Any poem added to a pattern does not extend the pattern, but places new poems, new patterns even, next to the original pattern - these new poems are at best allusions to the original pattern. One could write a series of series connected by allusions, but doesn't "a series of series connected by allusions" also describe an anthology of poems by different poets from different eras, or a magazine? A book containing poems similar in form, appearance, and word usage allows a reader to look for patterns within one physical location, seeing the poems as related by being in one body. Is any pattern, such as my GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, capable of thwarting contamination by the very idea of pattern, of being conflated with any poem that has basic similarities such as the English language, enjambment, or punctuation?

AHB: Ya got me. I hadn't thought of a complete series as a poem. well I have but you explain it freshly. I was thinking you have to read Paradise Lost or Dante's Comedy in order, because they are stories, but that isn't the case. things can be read out of chronological order, especially as each story is familiar to most of us even if we haven't read the works. the modernist long poem like The Cantos can certainly be read out of order. there may be value in reading them as presented, but I doubt that it is a necessity. I won't even try to answer your last question. I think I stay in the box too much. yesterday I was doodling up yet another Joan Houlihan poem (I've done at least 20), a flarfy exercise. I wanted to do a find and replace for all I's (1st person singular) in the text. I did it wrong and every 'i' got replaced by 'Joan Houlihan'. usually I just undo the error, but this time I kept it. this is the result:

Joan Houlihan turned to see a long-haJoan Houlihanredfu-manchu LJoan Houlihanmbo to the
"Banana Boat Song" "Thats Stoner rock man! ... lol A fJoan Houlihanrst person narratJoan Houlihanve about growJoan Houlihanng up wJoan Houlihanth a CaucasJoan Houlihanan [wearJoan Houlihanng a banana costume]:

Joan Houlihan'ma prJoan Houlihanvate banana who bruJoan Houlihanses easJoan Houlihanly

Well let me see last tJoan Houlihanme Joan Houlihan checked the WHJoan HoulihanTE men saJoan Houlihand Fu Manchu was tryJoan Houlihanng to unJoan Houlihante all of AsJoan Houlihana to take over the world, hmmm where have Joan Houlihan heard that

"ThJoan Houlihans Joan Houlihans a trJoan Houlihanumph for you, SmJoan Houlihanth," Joan Houlihan saJoan Houlihand "Joan Houlihan wJoan Houlihanll devote the whole of my attentJoan Houlihanon to Dr. Fu-Manchu!" he added grJoan Houlihanmly Fu Manchu could only play for so long onstage '"That Joan Houlihans almost Joan HoulihanncredJoan Houlihanble," Joan Houlihan saJoan Houlihand Fu Manchu plots to assassJoan Houlihannate foreJoan Houlihangn world leaders by usJoan Houlihanng slave gJoan Houlihanrls wJoan Houlihanth poJoan Houlihansoned lJoan Houlihanps

I liked the Joan Houlihan intrusion. I suppose there's a what the hell is this potential for lot of readers. when a procedure is used, doesn't it tempt the reader to explain the trick? is such explanation off topic? where perhaps the reader had ought to enjoy the text as is. I once saw a photographer give a showing of some of his pictures. during the question period, most queries were of the what f stop did you use variety. the photographer became frustrated that people weren't reacting so much to the pictures' effects, were stuck in the technical. does it bother you, on some level, to explain the mechanics of a work of yours? or does such explaining help define the world in which that poem can live, so that the explanation extends the poem's purview?


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