Wednesday, June 14, 2006


JH: I think that occasionally plowing ahead regardless of the content of the preceding installment helps Monster power along. One can always return to the content later - and who knows? maybe the installment is informed somehow by the previous seemingly-unanswered installment. Is any poem alive if unpublished? It's alive as long as at least one person - the author - reads it. A body of poetical work - whether it's one poet's amassment of poems or a large poem (such as Monster) - informs a poet's thinking as much as extra-literary personal memories. Do you agree? How few of one's poems are needed to be a part of one's memories? A single poem may do, with lines and words giving the ambiguity and complexity needed for mulling. One may compare a poem with another poem, but can one compare lines and words of a single poem without the poem losing coherence and falling apart into a collection of words and lines (the lines now becoming sentences... how few lines before the lines become sentences? - is enjambment the magic key?)?
AHB: Powering ahead despite content I guess is a way of staying loose, off the rail. We've mentioned already a sort of vamping that we do occasionally, riffs that don't push this content but nonetheless add a tension, as well as a curious stretch. I have a lot of poems sitting on the hard drive, and a terrific amount in notebooks, that I have never looked at since I wrote them. Most of them I have no memory of writing. When I make my occasional treks thru those exhibits, some of these poems come alive. If I tried to make a list of my poems, one's that I can really picture (I have none by memory, that's for sure), the number would be, what, twenty? Well, perhaps more, but those others are if not dead at least inanimate, until that Frankenstein scene I already alluded to. The work is all learning, I'll admit that. With my early writing, muchly what I'd hope for in a poem is a line or two that I liked, the rest of he lines just gave evidence of my lack of skill. But those few lines, they are direct evidence of my not just wanting to write a poem, but taking steps toward. Young writers are hopeful that they will indeed make a poem. At some point, clarity of task insinuates itself into the process. Enjambment and disjunction are important to my sense of poetry, by virtue of their non-prosaicness. Ugh, what would be a better way of saying that? The simple trick of enjambment brings metre or breathe into the writing. Our vamping phrasal riffs in Monster, which don't make sense re the content, sound (two meanings there) a poetics. The rhythm section takes over for a few bars, but not to say melody and harmony are over. Are you as cool about writing as you seemed? I'm a nervous nutty wreck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


JH: An ending to Monster could, at this point, only be imposed from without. It would not be dictated by the poem. The very fact of characters vanishing, seemingly forever, in this poem seems to drive it on further. Were the most-recurring characters - Wormswork and Ophelia, to name two of them - to disappear forever - but what is forever in this poem? - other characters would step to the fore of the stage. Often, I think, the main characters are but allusions (as in an elegy, it now occurs to me) - but then they become solid characters again. Do our theories of the poem, of poetry, as we've discussed on Antic View, hold true for the collaborative poem (in general, and Monster in particular)? Do the poetics need altering when we speak of the collaborative poem? What happens in a collaboration - is Monster a poem or a collaborative poem? I think of Monster as being as much a self-sufficient poem, with its own nature and demands, as a solo poem - but cannot explain, yet, as to why.

AHB: I see Monster as unended, possibly unendable. But is this monster alive if unpublished? Or does it await the thunderstorm, the opening of the ceiling, the direct effects of the world? The distinction between poem and collaborative poem interests me. With collaboration, we have a thing between us. You see it your way, I see it mine. It is both! A collaboration makes itself. I've remarked before that I often can't tell which part you wrote and which part I wrote. I need little clues such as that you use the ambersand and I use English spellings to identify the author of a section. You and I disappear, replaced by The Author of Monster. The work is a living thing. It is also a snaky path we follow. Sometimes I cue directly from what you write, and sometimes I plough forth almost as if I hadn't read the preceding. I assume a similar experience on your side. I think this giving over to the work is similar whether in collaboration or solo. Of course with the collaborative process (at least as we've defined it), we depend on the other's response. With distractions lately, I haven't been as quick replying to your installments as formerly. The collaboration is written in its own time, a combination of yours and mine. Ornette Coleman did a recording in which he had two bassists. One or both (as usual I'm fuzzy on details) f the bassists were recorded elsewhere with no idea what the rest of the combo was doing. Which I offer as a different vision of collaboration. Disappearances and reappearances.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


JH: "hurdling our confused sense of language into the zone of release" is a very useful and provocative phrase! The zone of release is separate from language, as are emotions? We all think in much the same language, despite our tongue (or species, even, if you want to get elemental). Calling thought (instinctive, for lack of a better word, rather than intellectual) a language is a function of language (words), which tends to fashion all in its image. Much as "the shades of 231 literary giants persuaded / Virginia's last ashes to their assorted psalms". Psalms are poems, persuasion is a function of language / literature, shades (ghosts) and ashes (remnants, funerary) are, in reality, the ultimate fictional characters in that such leavings refer to what came before. In poetry, shades and ashes are the imaginary leavings of imaginary beings. The 231 literary giants appear in four of my poems written in a four-month period (2004 and 2005). I had considered giving a few names, either actual or invented, of the 231 literary giants. Perhaps my Sainte-Beuve is one of them, and perhaps Herr Bibliothekarius. Time will tell, or not. "Faucet Hill" is a fictional town that appears in one other poem. "Faucet Hill Pharaoh-Gazette July 8, 1891" suggests that the poem is based on a newspaper account (or the poem was published in this newspaper). Where do such fictional characters go? Why do some disappear, and others remain? Is it simply a matter of the author's interest? Are some characters less of a draw for words? You have used several characters in your poetry, and some do not return (it was good to see the return of Lenin in your "plans to make plans, and how!"). Can one even speak of a return in a body of work - isn't it all set in place, being in that body? What was to be ephemeral is promised permanence of a sort, such as Virginia in the psalms of the 231 literary giants, but the river carries it away. Three page cards are presented to the reader out of several thousand - why are the others not presented? Wouldn't it still be a poem, no matter how long? Why are the 231 literary giants unnamed? Why not a complete history of every object (and etymology of the words) mentioned in any poem? Why is compression important in a poem? Does it have to do with the celebration / lamentation of the fleeting? Or would an attempt at comprehensiveness expose, upon examination, all that was forgotten or deemed insignificant in that poem? How to celebrate or lament comprehensively if there are omissions? Can there be such a thing as general elegy - doesn't the capacious live on, immortal, despite parts (though these parts be counted in the billions) that fall away?

AHB: I think the body of work inhales the entire possibility of _______. characters come and go, but even the fleeting built something. I may be infinitesimal, it may be many. This discussion lets me bring up something on my mind. We have a collaboration together, which is I think 4+ years running now, correct me if I'm wrong. I don't even have a tally of page count, but safely it is hundreds of pages. Will it end? Can it partly end? My questions arise from the sense of fleetingness. Characters appear thru out the thing (yclept “Monster”). Other characters make brief appearances. Doesn't, as you say, the capacious live on? What is the life of this work that you and I know, and few others? It's been noted that of the famous great long works of modernism and post-mod, only Zukofsky managed to finish his. Do you think your questions above relate at all to that fact? can we finish “Monster”, and should we???