Monday, December 19, 2011


JH: Welcome to the Billiverse is indeed genius! To comment on "Familiar Actaeon", and to answer your question "What's this with nails and wings", I present my most recent poem, "Shepherds' Council":
Hands that to roods have nailed paws lupine, and have nailed paws leonine, nail to cypresses wings cygnet, as Artemis holds cygnets dear, chaste Artemis Who disdains display even for vengeance, and holds vengeance dear solely upon discovery: this is had from Her nymphs when they hymn of Actaeon by Artemis imbruted, which change surely befell shepherds of late vanished to us.

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Unlike with Virginia, I did not intend to write more Actaeon poems. After I wrote my first two Virginia poems, I knew I would write many more Virginia poems. It is not only characters that can influence one's future poems. A poem can influence its poet's future poems, sometimes to the extent of altering how that poet writes poems. Has there been such a poem for you? For me, that poem was "And now refers only to Lethe's diverting ripple",
And now refers only to Lethe's diverting ripple
which struck me as having a natural use of the line. I wanted to see if I could write natural lines at will. This led me to a consideration of the line. In a poem lacking measure and form, how to end the line? Eventually, I began writing prose poems. I came to realize that unless the poem calls for lines, whether naturally or by formula, there is no need for lines. Sentences can make a poem as much as lines.
You write mainly in the prose poem. What caused you to write prose poems?
AHB: While in college, I suddenly started writing lines across the page, underhanging the next line below the last letter of the previous. It was a breakthru for me.When Robert Grenier, my teacher saw the poem, he got excited enough to publish it in This 3. In that poem, let us say, I accepted what Olson wrote about the open field of composition.

I do not recall a breakthru that said Write poems in prose now. Certainly it meant something to me to read, say, Baudelaire's Poemes en Prose, for the license (tho those poems are largely stories). I think semantics concerned me. That is, I understood the sense of line musically (thanks to Creeley especially, him and his enjambments), but I found line breaks getting in the way of the sense I wanted to make. For a long time, commas were the only punctuation I used. Which means endlessness. I'm going afield in my answer but I think it's all apposite. When I kept a journal,rather than fuss sentences and punctuation, I used dashes. These could be end stops or brief pauses (periods or commas). So I got a sense of freedom and structure, both, in using them. And as I became a better writer of sentences, no easy task, I heard the rhythm and sound better. And finally, I recognized that I could be straightforward, at least in delivery. Poetry as we find often loses itself in the mystery of invention. We do, after all think, in consciousness, in sentences. I think poetry without structure is gibberish. That a poem is a structure. Random words mean nothing until the brain discovers a structure (whether intended by an author does not matter).

I mentioned Grenier earlier. Have you a had a mentor? I mean someone you knew personally who helped your writing. Obviously I claim Grenier, tho I never stayed in contact after that one year.


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