Tuesday, March 13, 2007


JH: It doesn't seem that the zeitgeist understands classic books. It understands manufacture and the gesture toward consumption. I was looking at finished poems in my notebooks, and thought the page and websites would be another resting place. My poems could be visible to other people, and to other poems. My poems would be part of another person's store of read material, and part of what is available to another poet. I was reading a lot of ezines, and decided they were more interesting than a lot of print journals I was reading. I was first accepted by BlazeVox (my e-book Apollo's Bastards), then by Moria, then by MAG and other ezines. This was in 2002. Also in 2002, I was accepted by the print journals Nerve Lantern and Xerography. The next year, more ezines, and the print journals Sentence, Cranky, and others. There was satisfaction, in that something I had thought about in childhood had come to pass, and I was now aware of how I, personally, was as unknown to a reader as previously and would continue to be unknown no matter how many of my poems were published. This put me, as it does all authors, on the same level as a posthumously published author. Looking at the page, Geoffrey Chaucer is as distant as Allen Bramhall or Jeff Harrison. Publication allowed me to read my poem as a poem, not as something I wrote, as it wasn't in my handwriting or was recently typed for purposes of submission or posting. Building a body of publication, like building a body of work through writing, is an attempt to build an organism from poems. Changes may be made to this organism, by the poet or people other than the poet or natural circumstances such as fire, but it does not affect my life other than the task of building. Like the recurrence of Emily Dickinson poems in my poetry, and the recurrence of Virginia, this has nothing to do with me. Once a poet is published, the organism of poems is on its own, before and after the death of or living abandonment by the poet. Publication added a route next to my route of writing; the impulse to write is now accompanied by the impulse to publish. What are the beginnings of your publication history? What are your thoughts on publication?

AHB: some people regard poetry as an intensely private act. In such sitch, you write your poems in precious notebooks, like a diary, and maybe show them to some intimate. When I began writing, I right off showed my work to a friend who also wrote, so I always had this sense of writing as public. I knew no acceptable venue for my work (I assumed the snotty ass literary journal was strictly for honour students). I understand the distinction that you make concerning your work transmuted from notebook to page or website. It goes from internal musing to external life of its own. At Franconia College, lo these many, 2 of my poems were published in the college review without my knowledge. I imagine this happened to most of the contributors, the creative writing teacher submitted the work. And someone in the process made minor changes to the poems. That was my 1st publication. The same thing happened the next year. More substantially, Robert Grenier, now teaching poetry at the school, liked a long poem I wrote and asked to publish it in his own magazine, This 3. so my 1st publications were done without my seeking. Periodically over the years, I would send work out, even my 1st novel, and never got anything in print. Whenever I got the submission back I'd wonder why I chose those works, or see glaring places I could have improved. It continues that most of what I've published has been asked for. Which I feel is a good editorial practice. That an editor ought to seek work that he/she likes, and not just await the fortuitous submission. I very much favour the doing it yourself approach to publication. My friend Stephen Ellis has published lots of people, including me, in his broadside series. All he needs is access to a computer and printer. I just put together a short chapbook at Lulu.com. If this isn't as cost-effective as it might be (I haven't done a cost-analysis), it is a simpler process than going to your local printer. But the point is, I like the hands on, tho I am not that techno minded, so I struggle some. A year or 2 ago I did the inevitable search on my name, and discovered some of my poems I didn't know were published. Someone asked for poems years ago, and I sent some. I never heard anything back. So those poems had a life I was unaware of. Dickinson's fascicles were a sort of publication, even if only a select few saw them. I would even say that's how they should be read. That (perhaps) it is as much of a bowdlerization to print out her poems, and reorganize them, as to discard her marvelous dashes. I imagine most poets would continue writing even if there were no way to publish the work. And I am convinced that much of that work, ne'ertheless, will find readership. eventually.


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