Tuesday, February 27, 2007


JH: Is it the poem or the poetic that is the foundation? Does one point to the other - the poem pointing to the poetic or the poetic pointing to the poem? Are philosophical, personal, and historical/literary issues incidental or fundamental? I see the poem as pointing to the poetic, with language pulling in the incidental. Language is something other than the poetic, but is inseparable from the poem. Words point to things outside themselves, but the poem points to the poetic, which is integral to the poem. The poetic cannot be seen outside the poem. Is to invent more of the empyrean to bring it closer, by giving it more words that can interact with words given to quotidian matters, or is it to push the empyrean further away by allowing more of the unattainable? John M. Bennett is a challenging and excellent poet, as is Allen Bramhall. Here is a poem by Allen Bramhall called "les plaisirs des Smurfs":

cha cha requisition disorder
consternation among panelists
pumpkin popularity conflicts
strict Miami Vice probation
ocular nob button funny stuff
A Passage to India gnomes forensic site
kacking sounds debate
comical entropy
underwater festoon rebate
Hamptons payback lawn sprinkler
botulism for girls
late night irrigated etui
spondees amidst mayhem
burglar suppositories
left to write
ontological umpire budget
traditional moon rock
rosewater les meubles
boom fractal marmalade
estimated silly birch bark
dullard tonsil spot
ruminated onion duck
Spiderman lump lament
chuckling with cheese
pseudo suede fuss cancer
caustic underwear hovering

.. and when rentfree Fu Manchu finally established his realm, it beggared the mind. Who are these troops aligned on the mountain ridge bordering the snow field, tending toward downcast? What are hordes in favour of? When does a poem rise? Do they even read in the wind? Fu Manchu, that is a tyrant anywhere, presents a poem on the spot. The spot loses all geography, like Nepal and Tibet. The idea behind the spot that says it is a poem seems to fail. It needs a look. We aren't afraid. The English stand for 'something'. Sir Denis Nayland-Smith knows arch enemies when he sees them. Dr Petrie smokes out the last bumbling evidence. The east came west with as much as can be pretended. After that, something carefully idyllic: Sir Denis smoking his pipe.


I love the pairing of lineated and prose poetry. The lineated poetry gives me one rhythm, and the prose poetry opens up another, with the rhythm of the former informing this new realm (and the mentions of "poem" both self-referential and referring to the lineated part above -- a self-referentiality outside the sentence, and passage, that does the referring). A theme appears of location, of geography, and of perhaps-unanswerable questions. Could you write something about this poem, please?

AHB: You're right, sez I, the poetic points to the poem. A poem doesn't make, it is made. And it is our astonishment at that making that is poetic. that statement is amazingly crucial to me. Because I don't feel naturally 'poetic'. Not, at least, in the sense of ease in the parlance. Which I assume some people have. I brought up John Bennett because there's a functioning vision to his work, an integrity of inquiry concerning words. He wears weird glasses that see something in words that most of us barely grasp. Regarding my own poemization, I was abed and phrases started appearing in my mind. When I got up, I remembered a few and wrote more. And this whole Fu Manchu thing seems to be nearby. I don't want to sound like a dull explainer, so I will just note the respect I have for these incomings. Why write about Fu Manchu? Why am I so stark about Nepal and Tibet? So the energy was simple, random phrases collated, then a prosy change. Your own poem, posted today on Wryting-L, which I will quote in full anon, presents a useful thought: "ah sweet content, where is thy mild abode". these 'things' come to us, seem important, but what are we holding????? your poem is called The Recital. It seems situated, um, somewhere—Latin names for one thing, and Virginia—and possesses an enveloping energy.

Appius told Minutius ah sweet content, where is thy mild abode
Minutius told Calphurnia we ask and ask - thou smilest and art still
Calphurnia told Corbulo loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy
Corbulo told Horatio do never appear but in the dark or night
Horatio told Icilius my lost delights, now clean from sight of land
Icilius told Numitorius how many thoughts of what entombéd hopes
Numitorius told Virginia and at thy growing virtues fret their spleen
Icilius told Virginia now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows
Horatio told Virginia the world shall find this miracle in me
Corbulo told Virginia restless through Fortune's mingled scenes I went
Calphurnia told Virginia ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
Minutius told Virginia some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Appius told Virginia each hour a day each day a year did seem
Virginia told Appius as white their bark, so white this lady's hours

I don't now whence these Latin names come from. You need not be a Latin scholar but the feel is quite solid here. Your Virginia is a manyness, and fascinating from the many angles. The tension is philosophical. The interconnection of some 'then' and 'now', literarily speaking, is fascinating and compelling. Do speak further.


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