Tuesday, March 06, 2007


H: Does a poet become identical, for the duration of composition, with the choice of procedure? Does this lend humanity to obdurate words, or blanche the author to an extent sufficient for the poem's words to arrive? A recent poem of yours, titled "further proof that poems exist", is lovely and poetics-provoking:

Poets call for improved marveling. Too many words left unregistered.
More lilting could do trick.

Exotic dancers cite location as imperative. Their sitting replaces
words. Words aren't properly situated. Time now to react.

Later agitation occurs with revelation of loss. Nobody meant to mean
nothing, it just happened. A poem harnessed for years becomes unglued.

What are we to make of making? asks poet, some sort of dullard, or
expert in raining.

Trees instead of vacation, asserts the remedy. Unhand the glossary, step
back from function.

Tremendous tides in the sea place risk on shorelines. Ravenous sharks
eat openly. Swimmers divagate in the morning, digest in the afternoon. A
poem in this oracular jungle cannot stay trained.

Literally pulled back, as if track of each word would dedicate too much.
Some explanation was “necessary”, yet diligence could not hold on. Shark
swallowed something, performed no evaluation.

The poet has gauze for eyes, observed a textual champion. Inside
observation replaces outer reception. Programming language paces a
display “in the future”. The future cancels poem's beginning.

Shark futures distribute food in randomly excited parcels. Poets like
their chances just staying afloat. Poems, meanwhile, remain mindless.


Could you speak on this poem, please? I would also like to hear more about Days Poem. We were tagged by Anny Ballardini to list the ten books that most influenced our writing. Ten (plus one) authors very important to my writing are, in no particular order:

1. Edgar Allan Poe.
2. Walt Whitman. Among many other qualities, I admired and learned an inclusiveness that could more accurately be termed an additioning; the lyricism of ( / within) prosiness; the apparency of inspiration, in that every poem that arrived to Whitman seemingly resulted in a written poem (and from this I gathered Posterity, like Nature, takes whatever is present).
3. Barbara Guest. Together with Louis Zukofsky, an impetus to a change in direction for my poems. This change occurred in the Summer of 2001, a year before I started publishing. A chord struck.
4. John Milton.
5. Stéphane Mallarmé.
6. Paul Valéry, especially his writings on poetry.
7. Charles Baudelaire.
8. Emanuel Swedenborg.
9. The King James Bible.
10. Ezra Pound, especially his early poems, and his writings on poetry.

Each of these is more landmark than influence, which means to flow in, which would be not only too much a myriad to record (as a verb), but also mostly unknown to record (as a noun). The project was to list ten books, not authors, so here is a book list: The King James Bible (anonymous committee), Leaves Of Grass (Whitman), ABC of Reading (Ezra Pound), Flowers of Evil (Baudelaire), Heaven and Hell (Swedenborg), Selected Writings (Paul Valéry), Poems (Mallarmé), Complete Poems (Milton), Complete Tales and Poems (Poe), All: The Collected Short Poems 1923-1964 (Zukofsky), Rocks on a Platter (Guest). What is your list? PS: We've been collaborating on our poem "Monster" since the beginning of 2003.

AHB: I think yes a poet becomes identical with choice of procedure. A poet serves as the poem's means. I can use Days Poem to illustrate. I began Days Poem under the influence of a book by Jim Leftwich called Doubt. I liked its dense yet sinuous prose and, perhaps as importantly, that it ran 500 pages. Days Poem quickly found its own path, which was a tumble of “characters” that I kept returning to: Walden Pond, bears, hobos, Tarzan and Jane, Fu Manchu. It is journal like in that I wrote daily, in a fiercely necessary way. It took 14 months to write and at times it seemed (like our Monster) to be never ending. It is nearly 1000 pages and, I am surprised and proud to say, light on its feet. To me, the work rather clearly shows some of my influences. Leftwich and Peter Ganick (another poet of awesome, incredible extent), Thoreau, and of course the sort of all action narrative for which I still harbour a taste. To apply myself more seriously to Anny's list request, I find it difficult to answer. I'll start with a list of books:
1) Maximus Poems. Olson has meant much to me but perhaps most especially for bringing in the “non-poetic” (history and all that) into the poem for me.
2) New American Poetry. its flaws are now obvious, if not legion, but it introduced numerous excellent writers to me, and it had Olson's Projective Verse.
3) Ron Silliman issue of The Difficulties, edited by Tom Beckett. I got a formative understanding of LANGUAGE poetry from this, tho I should add the other issues (Bernstein, Bromige, Howe).
4) WCW, Selected Poems. possibly the 1st poetry that caught me.
5) WCW, Spring and All. an eye opening adventure.
6) Pieces, Robert Creeley. I never really enjoyed his earlier stuff, but this druggy collection worked for me. My sense of the line very much owes to him.
7) Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein. I didn't think literature could do this, and then I realized that it could.
8) collected Whitman. expansiveness and embrace.
9) Tender Harvest (selected), Emily Dickinson. the undistracted poet.
10) John Keats selected. romantic intensity and acceptance.
10+) Thoreau's journal. daily grind and look about.
I would place a number of novels on the list, because of how they cross boundaries: Moby Dick, Ulysses, A La Recherche, several by Virginia Woolf, Henry James' oeuvre (regarded as a single work: his stories all seem to be part of one large massive endeavour). And I would add Baudelaire's prose works, and... and... and...
and already I see I forgot Cantos and ABC of Reading, A Day at the Beach (Grenier), Midwinter Day (Mayer). I'll stop there.


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