Wednesday, November 01, 2006


JH: What weren't poems are now poems - this also applies to poems that were never written, does it not? Think of all the poems that could have been written had poets not lived in a time when a poem was held to be only a certain form. This applies to this day - though today there are a lot of poets who are constantly thinking of what a poem could be. The internet allows these experiments to be seen by a wide audience, who then may add to the efforts. All poems are experiments, I've heard, and this may be true - but some poems are more experiment than poem. Why is this? How can one be more the other? How can anything be more something else than it is itself? The author could say "this is an experiment; this is writing, as prose is writing, more than a poem", and the reader could disagree. Who, then, says how the poem is itself? If a writing is more experiment than poem (and how can this writing be partially a poem at all - is it because it alludes steadily and convincingly to poetry and past appearances of poems?), does this mean experiment is prose? Many experiments could be described in prose rather than illustrated via what meets the eye or ear as a poem. Poems cannot be paraphrased, but experiment can. This last statement is problematic, as much experiment is a kind of grammar. A lipogram, for instance, omits the same letter from every word in the text. One can point out that there are instances of subject-verb agreement (subject and verb in a sentence must be singular, or both must be plural) in a poem, without paraphrasing the poem. Can one paraphrase a lipogram by pointing out that there are instances of an omitted letter, considering these instances are found in every single word of a lipogram? Is a lipogram an experiment at all?

AHB: the formal structures of yore, formal as in agreed upon (I accept that Mac Low's structures are formal, but they are idiosyncratic, or sui generis, whichever term makes me seem more intelligent), presented challenges of subtlety. I have done a few, not many, poems in strict form. these were experiments because, as much as I admire many writers within such strictures, I'm not the child to be using said structures. I've done poems using Mac Low's formulae, and other methods I'd picked up from others. mostly these have not seemed like 'my' writing. I've mentioned my flarf experiments. I believe I use the same packet of methods as those who proudly wear the badge. many of my earlier attempts seemed like imitations. now I feel like my efforts are 'my' poems, and some are pretty good ones. I'm not even sure why this is. my point, and thank goodness I came equipped with one, is that experiment is a land of possibility. the image of someone in a landscape deciding what is and aint edible comes to mind. this berry looks good [barf], this one looks weird [mmm], etc. experiment can be soulless, a going thru motions. educational, but soulless. but experimentation can be the driving force itself, with risk involved. experimental as a descriptive for a type of writing is tedious to me, at least to the degree that experiment means an urge to be different. I respect that urge but ask for a sensibility behind it, overarching it, in fact. I guess (emphasis on the verb) that a lipogram can be an experiment if the writer had, um, something in mind. if the writer determined that lipogram was part of the path, not the destination. perhaps you could answer this question, as I gather you have done the lipogram. there are works of art that at least partly needn't need fruition. the idea of Jeff Koons creating a rose parade float is almost enough, so that one can say, someone made a drastically cute dog out of flowers, hahaha. but the execution does make it real. and it is something, even tho if you wake up early on New Year's Day, you can witness 'the real thing', which aint ART. I think a lipogram is no longer an experiment, but it can be used experimentally, a means to an imagined end. I think a lot of dull poetry accepts that a method is exceptional, but method isn't the poem. the monkeys who write Hamlet could as easily have produced last year's roses are red yawp. so let's give a shout out to the how of the usage, not the why. I guess.


At 3:12 AM, Blogger phaneronoemikon said...

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At 4:38 AM, Blogger phaneronoemikon said...

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At 4:39 AM, Blogger phaneronoemikon said...

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At 6:29 AM, Blogger Clifford Duffy said...

Gentlemen _ comments have been removed! what could have been is no longer, these our comments vanished into thin air. __ I see JH working along the idea, really,that all criticism is prose poetry, as there are no "more readings but only misreadings." This seem to be what he is suggest. Following that idea a poem is never itself but a reading of other poems and their relations even the ones not read. A poem is never itself then but always someone else. Seven Poems in Search of a Self... all this can change around to other side.


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