Wednesday, March 07, 2007


JH: I'm looking forward to reading Days Poem! What was the act of writing daily like? Have you done this before, whether on a long work or independent works? Could you write something about your poem "further proof that poems exist"? I find appealing your terming Emily Dickinson an "undistracted poet". What is a poet distracted by? Can a poet, when writing poetry, be distracted by anything other than an outside influence (a person on business from Porlock distracting Coleridge forever from the continuation of "Kubla Khan")? Can distractions be favorable to the poem? Are there two types of poets, the distracted poet and the undistracted poet? Or only two types of poems, distracted and undistracted? The idea of novels being an influence on poetry is one I've thought about -- does one borrow a way of thinking from novels that becomes accessible to poetry? I suspect prose has become an influence on my poetry - such as the syntax that lurks around median punctuation (the punctuation within a sentence - "sentence" including sentences that make up a large sentence).

AHB: Dickinson had a ferocious focus, it seems to me. She pressed on in her way, against cultural imperatives, for instance. Her poems don't seem to fail, because she is so homed in on the process. That is, even her less successful ones assert the larger project of her poetic life. In writing Days Poem, I felt the need to be undistracted. I've written novels, on a daily basis, but I felt a greater imperative with Days Poem. For 5 months, for instacne, our son was bedridden with a broken (in 3 places) femur. His care filled our day, so that I had to squeeze writing in, sometimes desperately. the feeling of persistence and perseverance was strong. I didn't want to miss a day, tho I did miss a few. That guy from Porlock shows up all the time. It's not just a time squeeze but also the ancillary “thinking” that impinges on the pure product. You think of Higginson, if that's his name, pretty much going holy shit!!! on meeting Dickinson's intensity face to face. Artists aren't crazy per se but they represent something awfully close, at least at times. Imitation and influence can be extremely distracting. Novels influence my work exactly as a way of thinking. Henry James really fascinates me because his stories so often lack story. Instead they exist as constructs in which this arch ruminator simply ruminates. So that Clover Adams could well say of James: he chaws more than he bites off. Though it is that chaw that I find so remarkable. The other novelists that I mentioned (and I should include Faulkner, tho I don't entirely trust him) all stretch out in their thoughts. regarding”Further Proof that Poems Exist”, it too would be a rumination, directed even. It's an oracular sort of piece in its necessity surrounding the poem's acceptance as a worthily created product of the imagination. I'm at times amazed at how seriously I take poetry, because I'm so wary of the whole ambiance attached to poetry and art. Are you at all? I spent a lot of years thoroughly unconnected to anything approaching a poetry scene. I knew no writers, and no listservs or blogs alternatives existed then. Could you exist as a writer in such a way? Could you just read books and make poetry and not publish, and still survive???


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