Wednesday, December 13, 2006


JH: I've thought of methodologies instead of poems a few times, and variations on these methodologies more than a few times. I consider this to be thinking about a poem (thinking about Poe's "To Helen", for instance), though the poem hasn't been written yet. This is to think generally, without specifics/quotations, about a specific poem. There is more to thinking about this unformed poem - a methodology is the willing of a poem that wouldn't exist without this methodology - than when one is not yet a poet and is thinking of the poem or poems that he or she would write: what lines appear to this nascent poet, what lines are these lines attached to in this poem that does not meet the page? But methodology may be a re-visiting, a re-reading, of the nascent poet's thoughts, the thoughts of a person who can be called poet only in retrospect. A poem without a poet is the wish of a poet without a poem, whether this poet has written a thousand poems or none. I've read Guy Davenport, and am an admirer of his essays and fiction. Speaking of fiction, can you tell us about your novels, please? How is writing prose-fiction narrative different from writing poem narrative? How is the conception of a novel different from the conception of a poem?

AHB: I perhaps should not have brought up my novels. I think of them, lovingly, as failures. I wrote my 1st 20 years ago. it emerged from a doodle and went on. it was a wickedly fast paced scifi parody in which I tried to wring every possible joke I could from situations. I wrote it with no idea where I was going, thus like my poetry. it was a great deal of fun to write. from it came a number of characters, and I got involved with these characters to the extent that I kept writing things with, or with, these characters. I didn't really care about plot. I did a great deal of rewriting, and as such these novels proved useful in terms of honing my writing talents. something like 8 years ago I wrote another novel which I still think of fondly tho I haven't looked at in years. a high concept thing, I saw the characters all as J Crew models, I means they looked like that. and they all were involved in some never specified mission that seemed crucial to the world. yet all they actually do is rush from place to place and drink cappuccinos. all these novel attempts owe to the novel by James Schuyler and John Ashbery, A Nest of Ninnies. I love how that book is so underinflected, and how so little goes on. Schuyler's solo novel Alfred and Guinevere is similarly wonderful. these works pretty much dismiss plot. novel plots (and movie plots) tend toward fakery. or more accurately, tend to serve motives of relief that I think can be pretty sententious. which poetic narrative eschews. the way Melville subverts the plot of Moby Dick with his varied ruminations presses the work toward the poetic. and, frankly, I see a similar effort in such like as South Park. the classic novel wants to replicate, um, nature. the poem's conception seems more integral to nature, as if it were the actual energy and not a use thereof. I think I'm saying something useful here but may not be clear. like the poem is the car whereas classic novels are the fuel that moves the car, which is the reader, and I guess that could be titled Egotistical Sublime. poems are things in nature, I think I mean, while novels are, well, made up. I love many novels but rarely for the happenings to the characters.


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