Saturday, March 24, 2007


JH: I submit poems for publication when a journal appeals to me, by its project, by its editor(s), by its inclusion of authors whom I admire (whether these authors are new or familiar), by a variety of attractions. When I deliberately began to study poetry, I discarded my notes almost as soon as I made them - no trace remained of what author was read before another, of what book lead to another. Now that I'm writing poetry, I discard my drafts, so no trace remains of what lines were erased, altered, or added. I wanted to move away, then, from someone who knew less about poetry and poetics the previous day, and I want to move away, now, from someone with an uncompleted poem. This eradication of process is a personal means of keeping growth impersonal, imperceptible, as though I was always today's poet. Where does the labor go, or what does it become, if it is not seen publicly in the poem via drafts appended or discoverable, nor personally in the poet's memory? Have you ever abandoned a poem? I have abandoned poems many times, discarding the attempts. Do you remember lines from these poems? I remember some lines from one of my abandoned poems. I have abandoned uncompleted poems, never a finished poem. Have you ever abandoned a finished poem? When do you decide a poem is complete?

AHB: I take the antipodal view from you. I like seeing the whole trail a poem follows as it becomes. But this may be mere curiosity, I don't downright learn from seeing this. Your approach sounds Buddhist, or self-ultimate, as Kerouac had it. I like that idea of always being today's poet. Wordsworth and Whitman are famous for having revised their work so much. The criticism there is that they are revising themselves not the work. I look back at older work and see nothing that I can revise. Another person wrote that, whether less wise or not I guess I can't say (tho I have my suspicions). I am not sure if I abandon a poem, that connotes negatively. I've stopped working on poems, and on series. That's often a logistical matter where I didn't get a chance to stay with the work and its impetus. Often enough, tho, it is a matter of go littel boke. the words have been writ now they must find a way for themselves. You ask, where does the effort go? We like to think that Michael Jordan received basketball skills from on high but he practiced obsessively. he was gifted with a physical body that could accomplish what he did but he had to train himself to perform his lauded acts of basketball. I think poetry is processual, whether or not we can observe the machinations of that process. Charles Olson comes to mind, who had these vast yet murky theoretical and philosophical ideas. His poetry and prose both show fragments of that thinking. The latter Maximus particularly proffer bits and glimmers of what he sought and followed. That lack of completion interested me. My own work is disjunctive, and I think that that disjunction is important. That I avoid determining completion. Because completion would stop the process. I'm not sure how this plays against your own perspective. Obviously, process exists in your work, you simply withhold the evidence. So perhaps your work lives within a disjunction too, or ellipsis, I'm not sure. The impetus or inspiration occurs here, you proceed with the writing process, arriving at a finished poem. You discard all that led to that poem. Your work is disjunctive in that way, as well.


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