Sunday, November 19, 2006


JH: I haven't written a lipogram, though I may some day (no plans yet). I wonder if there is ever a real method, an actual procedure. There is always disjunction in writing. The idea of a method, such as the lipogram, is as imperfectly committed to paper as the description of a sunset is, compared to the poet's thoughts, incomplete on the page. A lipogram seems simple (to read, that is), but what exists aside from the method, from the means? Is the content of a lipogram closer to the poet, or farther, than the content of a non-procedural poem? We've spoken recently about disjunction in the poem - what about disjunction in the poetic? The disjunctive poem could result from an unwillingness to write anything not dictated. There could be a disjunction in the poetic that arises from an unwillingness to be translated into words. The lacunae in a poem could be a result of the poetic, not an omission but a copying. With all the varieties of poems, there's a question of whether the poetic is one thing, or whether there is a hierarchy among the poetic. Certain poems are considered preferable to others, even poems by the same poet. Is this due to human judgment, or are there weaker poetics than others? How can anyone tell? I feel there's a way to see if there's one poetic or several. I don't know if that way has arrived yet. Any suggestions? How would this knowledge change anything? Couldn't a poet proceed as if there was one poetic, wouldn't the reference(s) to only one poetic make it, in the poem, only one poetic? Wouldn't the reference(s) to multiple poetics differing in value make them, in the poem, thus? If the poetic is known solely through the poem, what to say of differing references? Are they only apparent references, with prose being the only place where explicit statements can be made about the poetic?

AHB: Weaker poetics might be a way of considering the difference between successful 'good' poems and less successful 'bad' poems. the duality is unsatisfying because it is too clearcut. certainly we deem what works and what does not. such a judgment doesn't live in heaven, the empyrean, Parnassus, or whatever. I mean, it's only fair to assume that every poet meant something serious with every attempt at a poem. but that person's means may be worn out, unnatural, stupid even. I think we can only comprise one poetic, in the sense that we can't get what we don't get. I know I can't. human judgment enters the picture, even clouds it. I think we allow that human judgment can be exceeded or transcended, in rare moments at least. that something in the poem powers beyond what the poet intended and understood. your questions are tough because who writes except as they yelp and whoop on the playfield. we're involved in an act that rushes by. I suppose our thinking bifurcates, left brain and right. we can do both simultaneously but not with equal weight. we have prose mind and poetic mind, and constantly wobble between the two. what do you think (id est, get off my back with your hard questions)? I make far reaching statements as if I could see all sides but it's hard not to accept a magic explanation. that Erato (Errata?) sent me a poem via email, woo hoo. I don't really mean get off my back, but these considerations are perplexing, unsettling even. artists take a lot for granted. the longer one practices, the more one sees the shakiness of those assumptions. as artists start out, the process is a lucky happenstance of finding and netting. but prolonging in the arts, the magic weakens and one seeks procedures by which one may move 'in that realm'. it seems to me that some younger artists of promise disappear (as artists) as they age. when the leave the nurturing precincts of high school and college the art becomes more distant and unimaginable. that is, unless one develops a means of creation that includes study, practice and reflection. for years and years, I produced piles of writing that I would now declare only shows my ignorance of the poetic nature. I'm sure there are things in that grey mass that I could take pride in having written but largely that work is just a flow of words that I couldn't stop. I care little for what I wrote prior to 1999 or so, the learning process is just that slow. it is slow because the nature of the creative act boggles every mind. it's a good boggle, but perplexing.


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