Friday, September 08, 2006


JH: "We've got Everest in our hands. It purrs, so small in its geologic niftiness." Could you speak about your Everest series (which I'd love to see as a chapbook)? Yes, I've read Aaron Kunin's The Mauberly Series, which I admire, and thanks for reminding me of Steve Benson, whom I haven't read enough, but will soon remedy. I love the theme of allusions in poems, as what allusion is accessible enough to a hypothetical body of readers? You could mention the Statue of Liberty, and there may be someone who hasn't heard of it. What you consider to be a simple word may be for someone tantamount to a scientific term. Conversely, what allusion is rare enough? And, what process complicated enough? To some, an allusion to an ancient Greek religious practice obscure to most classics scholars will be as clear as a reference to the Statue of Liberty. To some, a complex procedure will be clear as 2 + X = 6. So, what is meant to be clear and speed along to the rest of the poem may be a stumbling block for one reader, and what is meant to roughen the texture of the poem or provide freedom of invention through esotericism is clear, fixed, and unobstructive. One of the things I like about the "Tale of the Roving Orange" is it could be oral as well as written, and indeed, could also have never been written, only narrated, whether in print or by voice: "The 'Tale of the Roving Orange' consists of after line of the word 'banana', except at about the center of the word block is the word 'orange'." The poet would then have the option of adding "It is modeled after the knock-knock joke 'orange you glad I didn't say banana?'." and then possibly telling the particular knock-knock joke (any Antic View reader who doesn't know it may Google the punch line we've quoted). We've spoken about print and internet publishing, what about orality? How about memorizing poems (would this necessitate musicality and relative brevity? would some poems be adjudged preferable due to the orator's skill?) and reciting them to people? If poetry is human, why not keep it human, why not make it inseparable from the human body (approximately locatable site of the mind) instead of bringing technology into the matter? Human speech could be for prose and poetry (bonjour, Monsieur Jourdain), and print could be solely for prose, as it was in the beginning, one human speaking poetry to another human, with the poetry more revealed as a result, borrowing none of the authority print offers (confirmation of information's accuracy, reception, and worthiness of remaining preserved).

AHB: my Everest poems came out of reading about Everest climbs, specifically the climbing season, May 1995, when I think it is 8 people died on the mountain. I've read 6 books by people who were on the mountain at the time (I believe 3 more exist), Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air being the most famous. thinking of the personal, local travail, and the heinous political situation 'up there' (I mean Nepal and Tibet, but of course that connects with America's grim ursurpation of elsewheres), just resonated into a 'story' that never really clarifies what it is telling. timor mortis conturbats me, no doubt. your question, 'what allusion is accessible enough to a hypothetical body of readers?' waltzes in nicely because, if you haven't done the particular armchair expedition that I've been on, you'd maybe not 'get' what my Everest rumination wants to be. 'Tale of the Roving Orange' was, in fact, orally presented before I actually saw the text, which itself, I'm guessing, could've been an afterthought. my friend was one of two people I've known whose dreams were a sort of literature. both people could recount their dreams in great, lavish detail. the narratives were specific and extravagant, and you'd have to be Jung on acid to squeeze them into any sort of interpretative compartment. in both cases, these dramatic recitations proved to be their art. orality is an interesting thing. I do not memorize agreeably, it's a labour. but I'm thinking of Robert Genier's recent work, how he has personalized the event. I seem no longer to have a link to the gallery offering some of his prints, which are pen scribblings (I use the word kindly) of words. the particular nerviness of his lines and no one else's. early on, I opted for the keyboard (typewriter, at the time), rather than hand scribble, but the niftiness of type does come at the cost of scribble warmth. I have a book by Frances Yates about memorization in the ancient world, which I've only just begun, but she touches on an interesting problem of how the ancients held on to SO MUCH. the Pali Canon consists of all of the Buddha's many sermons, none of which were originally written. all was memorized and passed down orally. it is humanly possible, and in fact, such crass new phenomena as Youtube can offer a route for oral broadcast. anyway, let me switch gears to more of your recent work, again from our plush playground the Wryting-L listserv.

Knots of Hilda Doolittle


to tie a Bowline Knot

Bowline is tied to:
swift thru dolorous lessers

form an eye

eye is tied to:
ships (schooners) affrighted

with the standing part
of the rope running underneath.

run the free end thru the
dolorous lessers swiftly, then
thru the eye (wide, affrighted
by schooners), making a loop
below said eye. take a turn
the standing part & feed
the free end back down
the eye & hold there.

pull standing part to tighten knot.



the Double Fisherman's Knot
is made by looping a rope
into a figure-8 in order to tie
two ropes together. since beyond
rope, as in breath, is almost certainly
tyranny, it is recommended the
ropes be secured by their ends.
endless amounts of rope is desired.
practical is to tie two ropes into a loop.
the Double Fisherman will make another
knot secure when tied with the tag end
of the rope behind another knot, in other
words, when half of the Double Fisherman
is tied around the standing line of another knot.



to make a Clove Hitch, make a turn
around a post with the free end
running underneath the standing part,
not exactly artistically. was Virginia's idea.
take a second around in the same
direction and feed the free end thru
the eye of the second turn /. pull tight.

It was Virginia's idea to make a Clove Hitch, but Neaera was ready to fall in with it. It was to be done thoroughly and lastingly but not exactly artistically. Virginia and Neaera were war widows and had made a solemn compact to remain widows forever. Ianthe had confessed... As for Appius, he tied very few knots and very few people asked him to tie anything. O, he felt to the full the lure of treading WHERE NO HUMAN FOOT HAD EVER TROD. Ianthe had thrown her wedding-ring at him and flown out of the house. How Virginia and Neaera would show him they were widows indeed!

easy to tie and untie, it holds firmly but is not totally secure.



beware! the Square Knot will untie
itself under movement. do not trust
the Square Knot to join two ropes
together. the Square Knot will capsize
under a heavy load. when tying the Square
Knot, both parts of the rope must exit
together. whence the untrustworthiness
and trickiness of the Square Knot? gather
around: but no, I will breathe not a word,
not until the Double Fisherman runs out of

these are the words he was at last compelled to write.



to tie an Anchor Bend Knot,
make two turns around
the shackle, leaving turns
open. knots may evade us,
as our own features are
less familiar to us, to our.
take a half-turn around
the standing line and
feed the free end thru
the turns and pull tight.

the Anchor Bend Knot was a ruin awash in wilderness when I found it.

* * * * *

this intersection of HD and knot tying just boggles me wonderfully. I can't imagine where you came up with these classical knot tying exegeses, and you don't need to tell me. there's an implied conundrum to all of HD's work. she was an analysand of Freud, and you can hear her questions thruout her work, which I do love. the odd grandeur of the knot explications and HD's charismatic identification with ancient Greece just explodes like fireworks for me. wonderful! I remember in Boy Scouts learning knots, the square's the only one I can tie now. indeed, knots may evade us. I recently saw, on the History Channel, a lump of rope representing the Gordian Knot. of course you would take a sword to it. you would if you were MODERN. HD herself was a kind of battleground between pagan intensity and modern diligence. ah, but why is there an elegiac note to these HD knots?


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