Monday, December 22, 2008


JH: Why do I not write a poem daily or yearly? Writing one poem a month is not a plan of mine. Once I write a poem, I spend time reading it by itself and in relation to other poems of mine (especially poems closely preceding it). The next poem I write isn't necessarily influenced by the previous poem. I don't begin a new poem until my thoughts of the previous poem are no longer in the forefront. The rhythm of this permits, so far, about one poem a month. When writing a series the poems follow each other more closely, chronologically and otherwise. My Virginia poems are not part of a series in this sense. I don't have a plan for the Virginia poems as a whole. In the last two years, I've only written six Virginia poems. It may be I am taking longer to read the figure that is Virginia. "Beneath The Ray" may be compared to "Mimicry In Ruins" (see Antic View #130 and #131). "Beneath The Ray" possibly quotes individual words, "Mimicry In Ruins" possibly quotes phrases. How to relate certain words within "Beneath The Ray" to each other to make an interpretation or a reading (is the difference between an interpretation and a reading a matter of degrees, with a reading occurring upon a person's seeing and/or hearing a text, and an interpretation requiring posteriority to a reading?)? The double meaning of "lyrist", one who plays on the lyre and/or one who composes lyrical poetry, in the second sentence is not invalidated by the appearance of "lyre" in the fourth sentence. If "lyrist" in "her lyrist" means an author of lyrics, it is possible that, if the second appearance of the word "her" refers to "Virginia" and not "rose", Virginia's mentions were authored by another. If "lyrist" in this case refers to the player of a lyre, this doesn't mean the lyrist isn't also a lyrist, or that Virginia's mentions weren't authored by a third lyrist (if indeed there are words accompanying the lyre). In "Beneath The Ray", the words "higher", "brighter", and "brightest" imply a hierarchy of lyrists. How to return to every single word in a poem ("O, the constancy of the rose, and how like imaginings!")? Within a poem, the first appearance of each recurring word is a lost Arcadia.

AHB: I learn from your method, which is not so much foreign to me as unthought of, or not yet incorporated in how I work. Periodically I look thru my archives, and by that I mean the last 9 years (since I met my wife, uncoincidentally: I almost never consult work before then), I find individual poems and working themes, that I ‘take back’, accept now. But I do not have a plan, nor have I the time to delve the mass (I await the MacArthur Foundation’s check). Each poem is a particular event (I started to use seems like as the verb but indeed I
), derived from previous events, each being a poem. I can see how you would say that your Virginia poems are not a series, still, they represent a consistency of your attention. I would love to see your work en masse, collected. Charles Olson did not just write Maximus poems, and he discarded a number that I think belong in them (I guess we have to trust George Butterick in this matter, and I do, but still…). The Maximus Poems highlight and asseverate Olson’s field of attention, or I mean focus. In sticking with the igniting energy as you do, you allow a fulfillment of the line of your thinking. I have long wished to find my Maximus/Cantos/A/Leaves of Grass, etc. Days Poem(makes a great gift!!!) is a microcosm of that possibility, it was each day’s attention span. It was also a wearing effort that I could not sustain in that form. I want to try staying with a poem in the way that you do. My writing is constantly an experiment, in a very plain sense of the word: a test to see if the present articulation provides a path. As usual, I am talking about myself, but I do want to remark on the short pieces that you have lately writ. ‘Mere’ sentences, which look so sparse and hopeless of endeavour, yet the Donne-like twists of their syntax and waywarding is lovely and new. Do you have a sense of these pieces in their brevity expanse, I mean in the concentrating poetic which endures in them? Oh, I imagine that you do…

Friday, December 19, 2008


JH: Your poems are well worth the wait! Since the past year, I write approximately one poem a month. The intervening days aren't a worrisome expanse. I've published all my non-collaborative poetry, and eagerly anticipate the publication of collaborative work. Each reader can decide which of my poems was worthy of publication. Once a poem is written, publication places it out of the reach of its poet. This freedom is the penultimate stage in the human perception of a poem's self-sufficiency (the final stage is a poem's resistance to exegesis. Is the first stage a poem's resistance to being written, or its refusal to appear to a poet?). A poem is self-sufficient despite what anyone perceives, but what of the poet? Does the poet think of the poem in relation to the public, and so either brings the poem into the public or deliberately withholds it from the public? A poet is also of the public, and thinks of the public in addition to, if not in relation to, poetry. My artistic production is solely the writing of poems. You have mentioned that you've written novels and stories. I am one of many who would love to read them! Are there any other writings you haven't shared with the public? Here is an Allen Bramhall poem that, thankfully, was made public, via the Wryting-L list:

Passacaglia Pathway

Words are slivers, in the destiny of that sentence proved by marsh and reed. Our gestures are terms of present arrangement, gifted pressure of Pachelbel. There rose a night of beaming, close moon, scattered tithing stars. Evidence luxuriated in the rhyme fest, gracious bending flower that rose, again. As tides gather in moonlight, as we swear to the tillage and fall, our gift remains, melodic basso ostinato. The season is fidelity, tho sentences are mocked by the nature of one last word. A period does not end a marsh or bend a reed, but wind over the proffered instills reference. Collegiate logic rounds the corner of intuited posture. How we stand in the mud means more, which is in effect as words spell array. What light in the graded year presents more satisfaction than this difficult haze of being? Love is a strict measure, kept filled with a sortie to limit. Limit is a multiple, pleased to be our meaning. Our love is the extent that life lives us. The cannon’s effort masks a dogma of intent, yet sails are beaming harbours, every day toward any horizon. Everything strange is made to be loved. Love is our clasp of nature indeed. A poem, then, will enter the harvest, bustle with snowstorm, collect a diatom of reverie, and delight you, me, and any other. Such is the cannonade, comrade.

* * * * *

Could you speak about this superb poem, please?

AHB: What inspires the once a month poem? When I was younger, the point was to write, and I was quite assiduous, writing daily, often at a regular time or times. I have not read Martin Gladwell but I believe (2nd or 3rd hand report) that he posits the idea that one doesn’t become the artist (or whatever) that one is to become until 10,000 hours of work. Surely he pulls the number from his intellectual derrière, but I acknowledge a breakthrough point. At which the poet (in the current case) is prepared to write a poem when a poem needs to be written. You seem to be at that point, and I feel that I am as well. Do you have a similar sense, or even get what I mean?

Anyway, the idea that publication places a poem out of the reach of its poet is interesting. I have lots of work unknown to the public. Most of it belongs to my extended juvenilia. In the 80s I began writing stories that turned into novels. All of these things owed something or other to A Nest of Ninnies, by Schuyler and Ashbery. I had this world of characters, and I wrote with a distinct disdain for plot. I think 2 of these works are worthy of publication (and acclaim!!!). Unless it is just fata morgana for me, but I do not think so, last time I looked at them. I have been so intent on producing, now I must present.
As to Passacaglia, I guess it is an ode to Pachelbel’s Canon. I know that it is a warhorse piece, but I love its measured resolution. I also associate it with my mother’s death, or it associated itself in that way. The act of writing is a serial welcoming of each word, which sounds like hooey, I know, but that is how it feels. That is how it feels now, it used to feel like a rush and blur, and maybe something came of it. The poem associates Pachelbel’s Canon, and the marsh I walk by everyday, and anything else around at the time. The writer is in the words that arise in these things, the writing arises from them: thus the poem as it came to me. I guess I must come back to the idea of one poem a month. Is the poem that you write an event of expectation (you sit down to write) or does the poem come to you in an off moment? Here is one of your Virginia poems, which perhaps you could comment on in the context of your once a month, as well as your practice. Do you have a plan for them all?

Beneath the Ray

A star, Virginia, glacial as its swaddling of farthest night, spoke -- oh, but they were songs fairer than any rose -- to me of a crown brighter and higher. Will Virginia share her lyrist -- but, oh!, is forgetful that ray, fleeting as doubt of surest crown? -- when I conclude rose was in her mentions the cipher for a star? O, the constancy of the rose, and how like imaginings! Virginia, had I the crown that charms the star, no discrepancy of breast from lyre could be found, though beneath the ray of the brightest crown.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


JH: I think one thing we have in common as poets is a responsiveness to words that carry large definitions. My poems often contain names from Greek and Roman mythology, each name a word that has a story (with variations) as its definition. Worcester has a vast collection of stories as its definition. Concerning our recent discussion on inspiration, a poem presented in our mind may not be introduced to the page unless it calls a name other than ours. Names familiar to us, or bearing familiar enticements, are welcomed. Can words other than these familiars be heard? If so, are they heard after the poem is written? Are these words the poem itself speaks, along with anyone who recites the poem via reading, speaking, or hearing? Is the recital of a poem the only true mimicry a human can perform? It occurs to me that in Antic View #136 I didn't address the interaction of novel titles and drama quotations in "The Pierre Corneille of Eugène Sue" (& etc), so I'll close with a few remarks on this topic. In "The Pierre Corneille of Eugène Sue" (and other poems in this series), it can be proved that the words after a line's final quotation mark come from the second speaker, but some of the poem's words that follow a line's final quotation mark might be found elsewhere in the Corneille drama (or in any Corneille drama, in other authors' dramas, in other texts); since the phrase that contains them is invisible within the poem, their every instance in the Corneille drama is indistinguishable outside of context. Perhaps this allies with the possibility of the drama phrases being found in the novels assigned to them: the words after a line's final quotation mark could be from the novel assigned to them, and the words quoted from other lines within the poem could possibly be found in the novel newly assigned to them. If a novel's title obscures/replaces a drama's title, what does a drama's excerpt obscure/replace? Note the title of the poem. Speaking of which, there are seven other instance of the poem's title within the poem. The poem's title is an unlineated couplet - "of" could be seen as enjambment spelled out). A "false" (i.e., "inappropriate") title is the first line of a couplet, for a space would separate it completely from "its" (actually, the drama's) phrase. The couplets allow comparison and contrast between a drama's phrase or word (if not the entire drama) and a novel's contents, as well as comparison and contrast of the two genres. The titles within the poem are a display of visibility and immobility. A title is sometimes a word, sometimes a phrase, echoing one or another element of the couplets' second line.

AHB: Intriguing thoughts about your work. Speaking of which, are you writing much? I have not been writing much poetry, not for lack of wanting to. This quiescence has been documented by the lack of posting to Antic View: all my fault. I have not seen much of your work pass thru Wryting-L, our home away from home. I probably have queried this before, but do breaks in your workflow bother you? I am inured to them myself. I feel a sense of maturity that I do not go bonkers when I cannot write. An additional question is are there works of your that you do not show? I can see one’s that are not satisfying to you, but how about any that you like but still wish not to present publicly. Two years ago I did an art showing, just me (part of my Masters project). Of course I wanted to show the pieces that I liked, but in going thru my work, I decided to show pieces with which I was not happy. I am not a trained artist so I cannot save paintings with technique, therefore, I had some really amateurish work on display. Regarding them as they are, in context with my oeuvre, made sense, and I think this value came across, tho I still was embarrassed by how poor so many pictures were. One should not be embarrassed by one’s experiments. In all cases, I was groping towards something. Now, I do not mean to limit my question just to whatever amateur work you have created. Is there a realm of your work that you will not reveal? Is this question even answerable???