Wednesday, August 24, 2005


JH: No, I wasn't bored with that question - it raised a lot of interesting points. I need quiet to write - and inspiration, but it's of a moment, I can't plan for it. I've lately become interested in my directionless inspirations - enthusiasms, rather. Enthusiasms for an approach to a poem that never pans out. A note on a problematic word in one of Samuel Johnson's poems (would get into it here, but it's a long story - a word that may not be a word but a mis-spelling, but if it was a mis-spelling, then it is a word the editors, and certainly Johnson's contemporaries, would consider a mis-applied word) led me to want to use that word in a poem, but haven't so far. There's a word, a place-name, that Victor Hugo invented just for the rhyme that I wanted to use, but have never been able to find again. And other such lost avenues. Why not go back and write them all? If I couldn't remember the idea, I could start from here on out - setting aside a notebook just for abandoned ideas, even if the idea was discarded a few moments after its conception. Would this be a project you'd be interested in, or do you boldly go forth regardless of an inner censor? The problem for me is the word or idea just sits there with no paths leading from it other than my own wish to write something with it, but something worthwhile could be built around the word or idea standing alone. Tricky.

AHB: You get into something tantalizing. I sure would like to know what the Johnsonian word was. I may not be obsessive enough to be interesting (I'm a lousy scholar too, tho I've tried). I like the idea of impossible sounding projects, like Perec's book with no 'e' (which I haven't read). I do come up with project ideas. Like someone had left some romance novels in a box by the road, to be taken by whoever or the trash pickup. I took several, thinking that, somehow, a work could be made with one of them as a basis. Well I did riff on the cover illustrations, studly fellow in buccaneer shirt, and the fiery woman with the gimlet eyes who he, you know, would like to take to the spring social. But I didn't do any project with the books. A lot of other ideas have flickered away as well. So yeah, I like the idea of saving these impulses, however unlikely their materialization might be. I am not a planner, mostly. I like a vague idea in front of me, and room for surprise. I would like to plan something, and go forward on that path. But I think I have trained myself in a different manner of performance. I remember once as a stupid teenager trying to relate Vladmir Horowitz's achievement to Eric Clapton's. You mean, I said to my father, Horowitz plays the same notes every night???. or something the like. I like your penultimate sentence above, sense of paths. After (or while) reading Midwinter Day by Bernadette Mayer, I decided to write an all day poem. What took 4 days, amounted to 7 pages. Another time, Grenier's A Day At The Beach inspired me to try again an all day poem. That one took a month and filled 60 pages. So what's my point? Inspiration, like water, finds its own level. Or whatever. I think you should collect your directionless inspirations. Ed Sanders' terrific novel, Love and Fame in New York is replete with these descriptions of grand artworks that don't exist. Scads of hilarious conceptual projects. Are you obsessive at all as an artist? Do you think obsession is a central fact to creating art? I believe my question follows logically from what we are discussing now.


JH: I don't bring up poetry, or literature, with non-poets. I'd prefer it if non-poets were conversant about poetry. With a poet, famous or otherwise, I'd speak of what s/he's reading, and other such topics. Probably not a lot of shop talk. Social talk has nuances? I'd bring this question up, at the end of the meeting. What questions would you bring up? What statements? Does everything have nuances, and how do these nuances get there? From within or without? Is opacity nuance, or is nuance / commentary used as artificial respiration?

AHB:I probably bored you with that last query, it doesn't exactly shiver my timbers as I read what I asked now. I don't bring up poetry with non-poets. With the few poets I meet, the conversation mostly is anything but poetry. If I went to more readings, and met poets that way, I am sure the conversation would be more poetical, owing to the ad hoc moment. I can't recall if I was being wry to use the word nuance in this context, because obviously there aint much by way of nuance in social talk. Nuance / commentary is often used as artificial respiration. I was just reading an article by a professor whose course I will be taking this fall (on my way to a late in life MA), Shaun McNiff, who does art-based research. he writes:

“the issue for me is one of recognizing the limits of description and what can be translated from one realm of experience to another.”

I like when Paul Blackburn said to Charles Olson, you go all around the subject, and Olson replied, I didn't know it was a subject. Focusing poetry into a subject performs a deletion or minimization. That's what I see in, for instance, the dismal dialectics on the Poetics list. Poetry is poetry, and then there is talk about poetry. The social nexus (for poets, I mean) provides what it provides, which varies from person to person. Tho I live within reach of a living poetry scene, I don't have much to do with it. I like the occasional jolt I get from my rare excursions (incursions) into that nexus, but I don't know that I suffer from not doing more. Who knows? Let me ask you a simple kind of question. What do you need to write? Do you need ambiance? Inspiration? Calm? A program? A reading?

Monday, August 22, 2005


JH: Sometimes I track motifs while reading. The Modernists are to blame for this habit of mine, I suppose. Monster has no forethought in this matter, but plenty of median-thought. A Zeno's arrow of intentionality? I think an outside reader would find a lot we haven't noticed in this department. I love classic and soon-to-be classic monsters too - perhaps this shared interest is one of the reasons Monster grew so large. I won't give in first, either! Either one tome, or several volumes would work for me. To turn to the marginality of poetry - if it was less marginalized, it would pretty much be more of the same. There would be more coverage of books and more sales of books, but I cannot envision anything more than this. The only things novels and popular nonfiction have that poetry doesn't, worldly-wise, are more reviews, author profiles, sales, and distribution. But perhaps I'm thinking traditionally here by focusing on texts - do you think that poetry should align itself further with the performing and plastic arts? And could web art that uses poetry ever reach a more popular audience, and how? Web art could lead the reluctant to poetry via the use of humor and popular culture.

AHB: I don't know why I bring up marginality. It is not something I worry about much. You make a good point about the intensity of this so-called marginal writing. How much energy goes into fluff structures in terms of popular writing? That's a rhetorical query, the answer is lots. Truman Capote wearied himself right down appearing on the Merv Griffin Show. Poetry is fluid, whereas popular literature is a matter of fulfilling reader expectations. I don't know what poetry should do, frankly, except maintain that fluidity. It can be performed, with quite a spectrum of expression. Poetry flows into plastic and visual areas. Geof Huth is a good example of, and info source for, visual poetry. For instance. Poetry, it seems to me, is a continual reconsideration of form, whereas the novel, well, for all the inspiration of X, Y, Z great novelists (if I haven't said it afore, certain novels and novelists have been important to my own work), the focal inspiration is to get the story told. So poetry is a very good monster to have in your landscape, at least if you like surprising rumbling sounds that aren't necessarily emanating from your stomach. I flinched from the idea of popularizing poetry, as Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky endeavoured to do, yet I regard poetry as essential just as WCW had it, “people are dying everyday for lack of, etc”. Do you ever bring up poetry to non-poets? Say co-workers, or whatever social sitch? You can't assume any non-poet has read Lord Byron let alone Susan Howe. Does this aspect of marginality get your goat? Would your goat like to meet a famous poet? Would you have much to say to a visiting poet, I mean one you admire, and is also on the living side of the ledger? Would you talk shop, or explore the nuances of social talk?

Friday, August 19, 2005


JH: Print publication would be most suitable for Monster, given its size. Monster as a book would be a more comfortable reading experience. The reader would be able to mark pages via bookmarks or page numbers written inside the cover, to keep track of what motifs and plotlines appeal to him or her. Who knows, perhaps a publisher will take it on as a book. Failing that, publishing it in excerpts online, as a serial, may be an approach. Say 20 or 30 pages at a time. Publishing it in serial volumes via something like Cafepress would also be possible. I would prefer doing both simultaneously. Will Monster ever be finished? A great question! There's no end in sight. Until one of us gives up for good (willingly or because of death), it seems to be an unstoppable narrative. Why did it grow to such a size? Was it something in the poem that did not consent to a hasty end? Or is it the collaborative process that's responsible?

AHB: Do you do things like that, track motifs and plotlines? I know Finnegans Wake and/or Ulysses (the and/or pretty much cancels the 'I know' part of my statement) were written in various coloured crayons to indicate for Joyce himself (who was going blind) the various themes he was intertwining. No such forethought in Monster! Monster has gone forth on the force of our interest. We've been tenacious with certain characters and themes. That tenacity has kept the ball rolling. You use the word narrative, which I am comfortable with, but that's not to suggest a storyline, not fulfilled at any rate. I think our collaborative process is just challenging enough to keep the energy up. We each know that whatever one writes will be bumped slightly, causing a mild detonation of reconsideration, piston chug, etc. I love large texts. Proust, Joyce: classic monsters. And lengthy contemporary works by Jim Leftwich (Doubt), Ivan Argüelles (Madonna Septet). I've looked forward with anticipation and curiosity to seeing Ron Silliman's The Alphabet in some finalized and complete form (I have read about half of the works associated with it). Just this moment I received I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved by Eileen Tabios (Marsh Hawk Press), a pulchritudinous 10x7x1¼ 'brick', as Eileen calls it. I daresay I have an 800 page manuscript myself. I think, basically, we are enjoying the ride, and the work will continue until we don't. I almost would like it to stop so that we could try a different sort of collaborative, but it won't be me who gives in first. You know the dilemma that Ashbery posed at the beginning of Three Poems, leaving it all or taking it all out. Either works, and we went the long way. Once the lottery hits for us, I would have no problem getting Monster printed, rather than await the interest of some poor small press. Or could you see Monster being published in multiple volumes, as Ron Silliman has done with The Alphabet? Do you get depressed or distracted by the marginality of poetry?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


JH: Yes, I've read Stephen Ellis, and enjoy his poetry very much. To publish poetry is to add to a reader's store of language and mental environment. Even if a reader hates a poem, this too is fuel for the reader. So it's altruism to publish. One good turn deserves another. Lack of confidence may be more interesting (more can be written about reluctance, I feel, since absence is a larger space), but publication comes about in the end, unless the poems are destroyed. A poem of mine was published online with the spacing of two lines altered. What is lost when a poem's spatial construction is changed? The reading changes, and instead of meeting the eye as a concrete work, a poem presents itself to be read more traditionally, more lyrically. The poem in question isn't very adventurous in spacing, the indention that was lost is only in two lines. I've never had any words altered in an online publication, as it seems to be a matter of cutting and pasting. Once in a print magazine the first or second "r" was dropped from the word "orchard" in one of my poems. But I don't think it mattered too much. I wonder why snobbism in online and self-publishing exists in avant-garde circles, of all places? That's more of a rhetorical question, but still. Perhaps some people are concerned with the permanence of their work, for whatever reason (personal aggrandizement, a desire to have the work reach a wider and supposedly more influential - in a worldly sense - audience, etc). But I think time will change all this. To the youth of today, internet publishing of any kind is quite acceptable. When they grow (or devolve) into adulthood, publishing their poetry online shouldn't be a problem for them. I also think the canon will be changed because of this. What is the prestige of the Norton anthology when there are so many poetry sites? And if the Norton anthology goes online, there will easily be many webpages that are equally or more attractively designed than Norton's. After a certain date, canonization will be a matter of individual and group taste, as it has always been, but without fewer converts via bullying. Before this date, readers will ascribe importance to authors simply because of their canonization in antiquity - but fortunately more forgotten and marginalized texts are being made available online, so even this may be diluted. And who knows what else awaits to help poetry out! Do you feel poetry loses something in publication, as poetry loses something in translation? Is there a more ideal form of publication than books and magazines, whether actual or hypothetical?

AHB: Poetry loses its privacy when published: how's that for an answer? To publish releases the work into readership's consideration. And there the poem changes from a certain thing, into all manner of uncertainty and vexation. As I said earlier, I like the possibilities of doing it yourself. Calligraphy and home made books and such. Admittedly, I have not produced a lot this way, but the intention is there. Robert Grenier's recent work is hand scrawled, presented that way. Grenier was my teacher (Franconia College) at a time when he had not yet determined the form in which his work Sentences would be presented. He had these 5x8 cards with poems on them. One day he took them and pinned them on the wall of a hallway at the school. It was a striking display, and certainly a different consideration of publication. Now there is an online version, or replication, of Sentences, which gives a sense of the boxed poetry collection that Grenier published in 1978. A more ideal form of publication would entail a greater sense of the person who created the work. Not as in personality, we get enough of that, but the nervous machine that puts words down in whatever way. Calligraphy and other visual effects, home made bindings and so forth. Or the possibilities of online, which are myriad. Oh, gosh, I don't know. I am brought to ask about our own collaboration, a work of more than 300 pages, still growing, that we've worked on for 3 ½ years. How should it be brought to the public? Can you envision a print publisher taking a flyer on it? Can you imagine an online presentation? Will we ever finish it? Because of its length, and that neither you or I are named Stephen King, it challenges any form of publication that we might think of.

Monday, August 15, 2005


JH: I have three e-books online, Loot, Lives of Eminent Assyrians, and Apollo's Bastards. Each of these are independent poems. I've yet to put a poetry collection online, although I'm planning to soon. I like the idea of my poems drifting about cyberspace uncorralled. I notice that when I'm in a print magazine, I see a lot of poets that I don't see online. Two worlds rarely colliding, though that seems to be changing. So print magazines allow me to meet new writers. There are old hands (as old as old can be in this new world) that consistently appear in e-zines, who are only recently being joined by new names. The history of internet publishing has yet to be written - it will be interesting to see if there's an old guard (the settlers) of poets who initially published in e-zines versus the late-comers. Things go by so quickly on the Net that I think the early chronology will be muddled, which is fine with me. It should all be muddled. What do you think? And how do like seeing your poems online versus print? Do you foresee a time when the dichotomy of online and print will itself be muddled? I think that as printer technology advances, a person will be able to easily bind a book printed off the Net. Perfect bound, with a cover already picked out by the author / publisher. One will be able to create a different cover, and print marginalia as though the marginalia were put there by the author.

AHB: Muddle away, as far as I am concerned. The interesting concern is the work, not its manner of distribution. A snobbism still exists concerning self-publication. As if it were an unclean act to put forth your work yourself, that one needs some intermediary to affirm your work's value. Screw that, if you will pardon my aplomb. I've mentioned on my blog Alli Warren's chapbook. The writing is great, she's really a writer worth watching. I was tickled that she made it herself, a simple stitched book. This is absolutely a direction to consider, whether in print or online: writers taking control of production. We all know that poetry hasn't a lot of money power, but that just opens possibilities. Xerox and mimeo were important publication tools for certain writers in the 60s or so. Cheap ways to get the work out. Print publication costs ducats, and that's a natural fact. There are technologically-minded writers like Alan Sondheim, who have been online forever, who have established themselves with their online presence. I am not the complete Luddite that I take it you are, but I'm still a little uneasy with the technical matters of internet. Still, I have found the doable with internet access. I do like my printed books but gee, when I travel, I carry quite a library on my laptop. I should do like you, and use the printer more. As far as print publication, I have 3 appearances, in This 3 long ago, and in 2 broadsides published by Stephen Ellis, who I hope you have or will read. Online, there's a small scattering, not counting listservs, altho I would count them. Whatever of my work that appears online represents roughly 0% of my writing production. C'est vrai. I don't know why I'm so unpsyched to publish, but do you think I, or anyone similarly, errs in such an attitude? Whence comes confidence and why do you suppose I lack it, if that be the case? By the way, I'll be the longwinded one in this interviewing. Further, do you worry about your writing being messed with online, get into the wrong hands, so to speak? Is there any sense of losing control of it?


JH: I haven't seen Slackers, but I'll rent it now. Dumbledore is gone. A good point about the silent strangers in my dream possibly being connected to people in my waking life. I tend to see strangers in my dreams as unique characters, though they are probably based on waking fact. Another good point about communities and networks. I like to get my work out there, preferably in e-zines because more people can read it, theoretically at least. Rejections do bum me out, but I keep trying. A few e-zines turn me down constantly, although I did break into one after 1000 rejections. Regardless of these lost souls, the internet is the best thing to happen to poetry since the printing press. Which do you favor, when it comes down to it? Do you prefer print books to e-books? E-zines to print zines? I cheat by printing out e-books, I don't believe I've ever read one online, only in print-out form. I also tend to print long e-zine contributions. Why, do you think, many people prefer, in their secret heart of hearts, printed books to e-books? Does the book as Book exist only in print form? Is the book (as Book) impossible online? Why hasn't anyone thought of asking these questions before (a joke, yes, but your answers will provide the definitive answer)? I think you should publish more, your poetry is great.

AHB: I liked Slackers a lot. It had a shifting, fluid POV somewhat like Mrs Dalloway. tho I used to watch, and write about, any trashy thing, I hardly watch movies or tv now. Haven't read Harry Potter either. Not that you asked. You and I belong to “the Wryting Community”, which is to say we both read and contribute to that list. I'm satisfied that it is a community, insofar as those contributing (can't speak of the stance of those lurking) do so in a range of styles. It is not a congratulation society. And I feel confident that whatever number of people (50 say?), take seriously what is posted. I agree that the internet has boosted poetry hugely. As with print publication, some ezines seem ephemeral, almost forgotten even by their creators, but others, like Jacket and MAG, are full force plantings in the vineyard. And ezines can accommodate net art. I admit I find reading off the computer screen difficult. I don't see the work as well, and the magic box is full of distractions: browsing, Free Cell, etc. Not all ezines are created with the reader's comfort in mind, either. I'm one of those who writes in books, comments about what I'm reading, or poems, or doodles, or whatever. I suppose the sense of substance attracts people to printed works rather than arranged molecules on a computer screen. When I left the wine business in the 90s, the idea of synthetic corks and even screw caps for fine wines was just being pushed. Resistance was in the name of romance, not practicality. Must be the same with print versus internet. In publish or die land, with colleges once again leading from behind, internet publication is just gaining acceptance. I think ideas of the book, as well as of the poem, should be constantly evaluated. Have you interest in putting a book online? My blog R/ckets & S/ntries was written online. When I finished I posted a pdf version of it. I think some people may've passed R&S by on grounds that it wasn't really a blog: no chit chat, just poems. So does it feel the same to you, publishing online or in print?

Sunday, August 14, 2005


JH: I don't associate all that much with other authors. Even socializing with big readers (another somewhat paradoxical activity) is a matter of "I like that book too" or "I disagree, Sir or Madame, that is a fine tome". Books and books have been written about past author circles and I enjoy reading them. Perhaps in the future I'll be a lion, but for now emails do. I prefer the literary to be written rather than spoken, read rather than heard. How about you? he typed. Speaking of dreams, want to hear a dream of mine? I was at a casino playing Blackjack and stood at 17. The dealer busted, and I turned to the onlookers and said "You don't actually have to have 21, you can also just get close to it" and everyone exclaimed approvingly as if I'd said the most profound thing ever. Moral: moderation in all things? Or even the most banal comment, when uttered by a poet, is ravishingly poetic? Or the poetic as didactic? No one else in the dream spoke, so was mine was the first sentence they ever heard?

AHB: Um, the movie Slacker comes to mind. In the 1st scene, a young man (played by director Richard Linklater), sits in the backseat of a taxi and explains top the bored driver his theory about he possibilities of the other road taken. He cites the point in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and Scarecrow could've chosen a different road. Just by introducing the suggestion of another possible story, opens a universe in which those possible events actually occur. Which I think is my way of saying I don't know. Dreams have so much implied history, even if the people in the dream are strangers, that.... well I dunno. My own history of writing has had times of writerly friendship, but I guess I've never depended on those friendships, at least the writerly part. I've mentioned it before but I went some 15 years without direct writerly contacts. I've enjoyed talking about writers with those who are knowledgeable. The social in the writer world bothers me. I see a difference between network and community. Networks connect likeminded, communities are diverse. Writing scenes seem to be more the former than the latter. I'm not much published except for what I've put online on my own sites the last couple of years. I don't know how much I ought to press it further. I cannot remember the last time I sent any unsolicited work out, years and years. Do you feel concern about your publishing? Do rejections, assuming you get them, bother you? Am I screwing up with my approach? Do you think Dumbledore is really, like, gone?

Monday, August 08, 2005


JH: My influences have been kind, yes. New influences come in frequently, and jostle aside any that become taxing. My work seems to change on its own - I don't try to consciously change my approach to writing poems. For me thinking about how I used to write poetry and how I write now (separately and comparatively) is a means of thinking about things that lie around poetry. My thoughts about nearly everything (I add the word "nearly" only as a hedge against the unforeseen) have become related to poetry, but I don't try to incorporate this into my poems (speaking of Whitman). Is poetry the wall separating the quotidian (the prosaic, ha ha) from what poetry writes toward or is poetry the other side of the wall?

AHB: I used to write more about myself, with emphasis on about, which is the world of prosaic. I began a journal years ago consciously to get that daily stuff out without putting it in my poetry. Weather reports (actual or emotional), likes and dislikes (how many poems can one write about the Boston Celtics and Fairport Convention?) and the diurnal whatnot found its way into the journal. I think it was a successful operation, fewer self-stridencies appear in my work. Poetry is the other side of the wall, insofar as its language is intensity, and it isn't a direct communication in the way conversation is. Poetry can have the prosaic in it, our lives are full of proses as well as roses (ugh), but it is not (by definition) prosaic. One's dreams are poetic, but much of one's consciousness is prosaic. I'm sounding a little blah with so many declarations. Poetry's lack of firmness is its elevating component. Do you, without getting personal, associate much with other writers? I mean at readings, writers groups, Rive Gauche bistros? What is your sense of the social aspect of poetry and its production?


JH: Yes, once I write a poem it's on the page in the same way a stranger's poem is. It was always like this. Sometimes I like my earlier work - and have published some of it. My poems in A Chide's Alphabet are early poems. Postmortem Series and the Accuracy poems are also early poems of mine. I'm reasonably happy to look at my early work, but not overjoyed. "Visionary bingo" is a wonderfully apt phrase for what happens when one becomes a poet! Have you ever written something that you wanted to write its sort again, but could not? A type of poem that you found you could not re-visit? Do you believe that when other letters are added to the "bingo" combination the original "bingo" is fore'er obscured?

AHB: There's the circumstance in which a writer wants to repeat a good moment: I've had plenty of those (and so has Whitman), with the usual slumping results. I believe you speak more of a manner of writing. I have had times when I've just not been able to repeat the means. Long ago I wrote a series of poems imaginatively related to where I was living at the time. When I no longer lived there (it was a few months in Salt Lake City, just to be less mysterious), not only could I write no more in that series, my sense of the imaginative framework fell apart. On the other hand, there are times I come to a piece and find that I can pick up its speed again and write in the middle of it. I don't believe the “bingo” is lost forever. It's a little funky with writing on a computer, for changes occur invisibly, whereas writing on a typewriter, draft after draft (I did much more rewriting when I used the typewriter way back when (I have been using a computer for 20 years, that's 140 in dog years)), the process was more obvious. My method is more flood-oriented than yours, I wot. I gather the change by draft in my work is much less than yours. Have your influences been kind to you? Have you ever willfully tried to change your work?

Friday, August 05, 2005


JH: Yes, I think you answered my question. Sometimes a poem stalls after a few lines - I can see a few lines ahead but don't know how to get to them. Sometimes writing is onerous. I learn from successes instead of failures, and when a poem refuses to show itself, I feel as if my time could be better spent otherwise. Plowing ahead could lead to success, but to me success is when the poem arrives fairly quickly as a first draft. I dislike it when there's a poem to be written but I can only grab a part and have to heave the rest of it into view. Turning to your second question, after I had been writing steadily for a year I said this is it, I am a poet. Yet I was committed to it a year before, and really had no thought for its future. When I realized I had been writing almost daily for a year, I was surprised. I think I lost sense of time. When did you first know?

AHB: I probably didn't accept that I was a writer, a poet even, for maybe 2 years after I started. And I was a steady, prolific writer. I remember feeling meek at Franconia amongst other writers, in what I perceived as the big leagues (a college writing course). Until I realized that the others were no more practiced in the art than I was. And I saw my own dedication outstepping theirs, meaning only that I wrote more. I've already mentioned that I redate my beginning as a writer to 6 years ago, when it all came together for me in some kind of visionary bingo. I feel abashed to look at the 30 years of juvenalia that I accrued, but am pleased to say I kept cranking away. Are you happy now to look at your early work? Not just as process, but as works themselves? I think the greatest lesson for most writers, artists, is developing the ability to see their own work. That may be part of my rebirth. Can you read your work with the same critical eye you give to other writers? If so, was this something you could always do or did you need to learn?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


JH: I've often thought you should write a memoir. Strindberg's writings I love (and Marlowe and Synge), but I don't know if he would be that much of an influence on my plays. He very well could be. There would be kind of a plot in my plays. I'm interested in plays on historical themes, such as my brief play on Sophonisba, so the plot would come about with some knowledge of the historical / legendary events. An encyclopedia entry would be enough for the outlines of the play, the sun to the play's shadow or what have you. More knowledge of the historical goings-on would add to the reading, but wouldn't be crucial. Yes, I've read, and admire, Stacy Doris. The flarf plays are hilarious - I especially like Gary Sullivan's flarf with The Beatles - "Oh How We Larfed" I think it's called (no, I Googled it - key words 'Gary Sullivan' and 'larfed' - and discovered it's titled Larfing It Up).

This is the third Beatles reference in this interview. Design or coincidence, blog reader? I should go ahead and write these plays so I can show what I want to do. Perhaps we should write what we're not drawn towards. You get started on a play, and I'll get started on a prose fiction! What if you wrote a play, a prose play, that was excellent, and then more excellent plays, and then you found you couldn't write anything but plays, ever? And you hated writing plays more than any dismal chore you've ever performed? Every day you'd have to write plays, because each one took a cruelly long time to finish. But you become the greatest prose playwright ever! Is an author's personal enjoyment a necessary part of the work ('work' as verb and noun)?

AHB: Today, I was at the farm down the road, quick tomato run. The cashier, a teenager, wore a Beatles shirt: a picture of the Fab Four and a concert ticket. I remarked to her that The Beatles landed at the airfield that is just about the farm's neighbour when they arrived in Boston back in '64. This was a ploy to evade the the hordes of Beatlemaniacs who had gathered at Logan Airport to scream their tribute. 4th Beatles reference. To some extent, I do write what I am not drawn to. That is, I experiment, twiddle with method. I post a lot of my experiments on my blog because they seem worthy but they also seem foreign, created by methods that are not 2nd nature to me. But really, I haven't met a writing task that isn't enjoyable. I've written all sorts of genre (however well). I used to write high-toned ad copy, you might call it, namely the advertising newsletter for the winestore where I worked. In finally earning my BA last fall, I wrote lots of formal papers, a completely new experience for me. I really enjoy writing, so it is hard to imagine the situation you posit. The hallmark of a successful genre fiction writer is a franchise character or situation that the writer can continually exploit, and I would guess that that can get tiresome, but I still see the potential for adventure in such a task. I consider ruffling one's own feathers a positive thing to do. So I didn't really answer your question, or simply proved by my reply that I lack imagination. Do you ever find writing difficult (in the sense of not wanting to continue) or unpleasant? Also (and I think related), at what point in your writing career did you start thinking of yourself as A Writer (or even A Poet), and not just hacking around? When did you find yourself committed to it as, if I am not putting words into your mouth, a lifelong dedication? The inference of your query concerns dedication, I should think.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


JH: I write with a pencil on a spiral notebook, usually sitting at a table. I wait for the lightning bolt, as it were. I usually write during the day. That's pretty much my routine. What are your writing habits? What kind of writing would you like to do more often (or do at all)? I would like to write more verse-plays. I've written maybe three in all, and the longest is six pages. I want to write much longer verse-plays, vast unstageable works. I enjoy reading novels, but have never wanted to write prose fiction, lengthy or otherwise. Is there any writing you have never really been interested in? I sometimes idly think of writing essays, but am listless about it. I'm not listless about huge verse-plays, just unthunderbolted.

AHB: I like the idea of projects, any work that takes a while to produce. I get ideas, like somehow using a romance novel that I found as the basis of a work, but I never seem to identify exactly what I want to do, nor have I ever begun such a project. Maybe someday. A biographical (the baseball pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander interests me) or historical work interests me, I'd love to do the research, but such would demand a real commitment, which I have yet to make. As a matter of habit, I write 2-3 times a day at least, in the morning and evening particularly. My blog gathers more of my time perhaps than ought, but on the other hand, I take it seriously, see it as a viable effort. I also have a habit of writing in notebooks while in bed, just before I turn out the light: final scrapings of the brain for the day. I'm also interested in memoir, in some way. By memoir I mean ones like Tony Towle's, or Ron Padgett's bio of Ted Berrigan, but also journals (like Thoreau's), diaries (Anais Nin), and what seems to be large autobiographical flow from Burroughs and Henry Miller. So maybe I'd go that way...Plays are perhaps a form that I am least interested in. I am not well read in the genre outside of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans (I love Marlowe, the wildman) and Synge, who I also love. You put me on to Strindberg. Would his works represent inspiration for the sort of verse-plays you have in mind? I really like dialogue, but the trappings of plays, likewise the trappings of novels, weary me some. Would there be plot involved in your plays, as you envision? Have you read the work of Stacy Doris? She writes a playlike form of verse, a widly imaginative gust of exuberance. Gary Sullivan and other Flarfists do playlike creations. Does what you imagine in any way fit such descriptions? Our collaboration shows playlike signs, voices you might say. Plays sound like a good direction for you.