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.


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