Saturday, March 10, 2007


JH: One could write poetry and read books and not publish, and survive. Memory, personal and cultural, is the only thing that is affected by not publishing. The books on one's shelves and the poems in one's notebooks are identical in physical presence. Why publish, then? This question is tied in, inextricably, with questions of why art, why literature, why poetry, why culture. An unpublished poet who whose productions would be despised by popular, elite, and all in between is indistinguishable from a mandarin poet whose never-to-be seen poetry would be acclaimed eternally by noted poets and commentators - both are perfect writers (arguably, this perfection exists even with publication of both poets). To be published is to be announced as a writer, not a poet, except as practitioner of the genre termed poetry. Me, I like publication - because I would hate to miss out on poems by Allen Bramhall, among others. What do you not entirely trust about William Faulkner? I love the ambiance attached to poetry and art - if by ambience you mean the je ne sais quoi about poetry and art, what is brought to mind in the absence of a specific example of a poem or artwork, a poet or artist. If you mean poetry scenes, whether literary or face-to-face, I tend to be wary of them, although positive things have come from them. Do you think poetry scenes artificially create recurrences? By recurrences I mean things that reoccur in a poet's writing - such as methods, style, and words. Outside of a poetry scene, recurrences are self-imposed or imposed from outside of intention. Aliens reoccur in your work, Virginia in mine. Are "aliens" and "Virginia" synonyms? There are also less frequent recurrences. For example, in January 2005 I deliberately alluded to the closing lines of an Emily Dickinson poem (449 - "I died for beauty") in my poem "Weak As Roses: Wherein The Most Transparent Deception Is Yet A Cipher Undaunted".

In January 2006, I unintentionally alluded to the closing line of another Emily Dickinson poem (320 - "We play at Paste") in my poem "I practiced these sands, the freshest crowns". (P.F.S. Post does not pluralize "crowns" in the title, and capitalizes all the words in the title, otherwise the poem is posted as I wrote it). What does it mean that I alluded to a Dickinson poem in the same month of adjoining years? Is it just coincidence? In 2007, I quoted, deliberately, but not thinking of the two JH poems mentioned above, the penultimate line of Dickinson's 449. However, this was in February 2007, not January, suggesting more than the patness of coincidence. Are there any such infrequent recurrences in your poetry? I should add "that you know of", thinking that there are many recurrences in my poems, and in any poet's, that I cannot see.

AHB: In the years in which I had I'll call it no connection to other living writers, I still read lots of current writers, perhaps more than I do now. So I was part of the scene that way. But I have realized that meeting other writers (by the various means now possible) has been important for me. Just on the level of thinking I've written something kinda cool, I'd like people to read it. The Poetics list is almost entirely announcements of what people have done lately, like the 3 latest poems someone has now published in some mag or zine. The outward push should be balanced by inward reception. Does the zeitgeist understand classic books? I mean classic as in an artist's home run clout. Seems like an overly eager expectation of the next book exists, rather than patience to delve into the present one. Which tendency I attribute to the abundance of publication possibilities and ease of publication: so much stuff is available. I distrust Faulkner in how he may be too canny at times with his effects. he was a Hollywood writer, so did he get tainted by the power to play to the cheap seats? I wonder sometimes. In the flush of work that can be seen now, one must be wary of the imitative, the correct, the unexploring, because so much work is being cranked out. I'm reading My Angie Dickinson by Michael Magee, which is an intersection of Emily Dickinson with pop culture. Magee uses various techniques to translate (I'm not sure that would be his word) Emily's work from her own little world to the greater one. I would call Emily's work subversive, the way she plays with, mocks, changes forms and thinking. I suppose you could say Magee's effort emphasizes actualities in the shiftiness of pop culture. I'm not clear here (I'm thinking as I write). Perhaps we can say that Dickinson gave up the idea of publishing because she saw no way for her iconoclasm to exist. I cannot say what her satisfactions or lack thereof might be, in her commitment to refrain from publication. I like the idea of my “Aliens” and your “Virginia” as being synonyms. The specific meaning I may see in aliens may differ from how you see Virginia, yet in both cases we see a mutable constant, if that paradox isn't too precious. On my side, I do not ascribe to aliens in any meaty way: no tin foil helmets here. But the idea, in a very trashy scifi way, appeals to me narratively. Which brings to mind the sense of narrative that we, everyone, live. The coincidence you cited with your Dickinson poems asserts (even in your question) a narrative that transcends, possibly, your ambition as a writer. You are caught wondering if you'll always or even just once again reference Dickinson on a specific date. I cannot think offhand if I have similar recurrences, tho I suspect I do. How did you come to be published at first? Did you decide that what you wrote needed to be seen? Was there satisfaction in getting published? Did publication change your course?


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