Tuesday, January 30, 2007


JH: F1: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE does intermix several lists. Instead of the progression of one word from line to line, I progressed from line to line an example from one category. The categories are, respectively, sharks, roller coasters, geological time, birds, poisons, U.S. Civil War battles, stringed instruments, firearms, and ducks. It may be noticed that I have used these categories before, in another series: "Sharks of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley", "The Roller Coasters of Phillis Wheatley", "The Geological Time of Aphra Behn", "The Birds of Nikolai Gogol", "The Poisons of Felicia Hemans", "The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles", "Stringed Instruments of Sheila Kaye-Smith", "Firearms of Matthew Arnold", and "The Ducks of Cotton Mather". With the exception of "raven", all the examples in F1: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE were previously used in these poems. The recurring category examples are depictions of the pre-existing poems ("The Ducks of Cotton Mather", etc), with the exception of Sawsharks, which may be seen as an allusion to "Sharks of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley", since there's not enough examples for a depiction (is "coincidence" another word for "allusion"? When - and is this a matter of quantity or quality -does depiction stop being allusion?). The categories and examples are accessible even if my "The Ducks of Cotton Mather" series isn't kept in mind, making the progressive words from line to line (Gettysburg, Murfreesboro, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg) synonyms within the category (in D1: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, the progressive words are unidentical and begin with the same letter). The "3a.m." throughout the poem (in the position earlier termed the "connector" - see Antic View 83, 91, and 94 for commentary on GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE) is, to me, where explanation becomes problematic: does "3a.m." mean "three o'clock ante meridiem"? If so, do the three in the mornings occur on the same day, etc. If the a.m. does not stand for ante meridiem, what does it stand for? The initials A and M pull in letters from words in the poem ("Arsenic" and "Arquebus", "Murfreesboro" and "Mallard" name just the words that have the initials A and M); "3a.m." occurs three times a line in this six-line poem. Should A be considered apart from the three, since there is no space between them? Does the letter M partake of the numeral three?: etcetera. David Divizio has an art series which processes GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, here

Could you talk about your poem "foundation of 6 or 7 steps", please?

Fact, the Himalayas.
Schneider who is gray
out of steel chosen
in the nth hiring.

Die sick, butter grease
of farm laborer matrix, the
griffin Bianka put back
the person with the
diet Grosvenor ode.

O use liner injury,
Oil is no zoo.

Paris has thousand Frankensteins,
makes the Himalayas Schneider
which is gray of stem.

choose the nth hiring.

Those are sick
of the butter grease
of farm laborer griffin

put back O malicious Governor,
use injury liner, Oil not
Paris zoo.

thousand Frankensteins, finish
the diesel elephant.

Victory in an armchair
of low belly yaw
because the axis.

I am machete of traumatized
perfume's haft of bean hiring.

enormous end in common
stags of Seersucker. O
yaw of Virgil stein contrast:
Rich daisies, how ideal.

AHB: I noticed from 1st glance how the list items leapt out. having interest in the Civil War, those place names are particularly vivid. the poem sets up relationships that the reader hasn't likely prior experience for. a gallimaufy. you bring up the matter of depiction vs allusion. one has to consider exactly what depiction might entail. a word by itself alludes to whatever register of possibilities, but depiction seems to need context. Gettysburg incites one to think of Lee, Little Round Top, Pickett's Charge, Lincoln, etc. Kingda Ka brought for me nothing directly, tho I heard Kingdom Come in its syllables (I had to supply a context). I don't think Kingda Ka depicts Kingdom Come”, just supplies the allusive possibility. but perhaps I'm wrong. “Foundation of 6 or 7 Steps” is a “translation” of Heine. I had gotten a translation of a Heine poem by Ben Friedlander and liked it, never having read HH before. I had an urge to translate so I got a German text at Project Gutenberg. I don't have much German under my belt but I thought that with aid I might manage. but I was too impatient to proceed in such an activity so I shot the text thru Babelfish and spellcheck. if either program choked on a word, I split the word and tried again. I finally cut a few words and shifted things a bit. it really sounds like a lame process, but I see it as an act of finding. I mean, Frankenstein showed up, which I liked. to what degree can it be a translation of Heine? 7 or 8 years ago I did a flarfy (pre-flarf) translation of a few of the Duino Elegies. in this case, I substituted unlikely words for those in the translation that I used (which no doubt came from Project Gutenberg as well). my translations retain something of Rilke, which I find fascinating. the Heine, so far as I can tell, bears little resemblance to the original.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


JH: Thanks! Hard to tell if disjunction was always present to readers/auditors of poems (parataxis is an old term), or if it is more noticeable now. The progression from word to word is a mystery, and the impetus to get from one word to another and have those words stick together intellectually is an argument for convention, whether linguistic generally or literary specifically. However, intellectual cohesion is an argument against words, do you think? Why not be content with one word? There could be one word in a poem, with the other words being literature. How to highlight that word? A series could be a way to highlight a recurring word distinguished from a word recurring in a poet's poems such as "the", "and", or "a". But why distinguish "Fu Manchu" or "Virginia" from "the" or "and"? The words "the" and "and" have fixed functions, while "Fu Manchu" and "Virginia" are more fluid. How to make characters of all words? Would this involve a leveling, an equality, of all the words in the poems? Would this be impossible? Perhaps this leveling can be hinted, as in the opening words of your poem "http://www.bigbridge.org/deathabramhall.htm" jerking goshawks from the sky: "fortunate breathing mechanism". Each of these three words has an equal weight, and must be encountered one by one, rather than sequentially as such. This establishes a meter, encouraging future words in this poem to be read similarly. Does equality of words have to do with the compression ideal of lyric poetry? Brevity, and traditional meter such as iambic pentameter, may be an attempt at an equality of reader attention to each word.

AHB: You are right about the question of disjunction back then. because of the necessities of metre and rhyme, the reader expected a certain amount of acrobatics. and you think how Whitman tended toward not disjunction but a word order that sounds like an assertion of set form but isn't (Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, When Lilacs First in the Dooryard Bloomed) (Me Imperturbe???). progression from word to word, as you say, is a mystery. I guess how I distinguish prose from poetry would be word weight. prose is a flow with highlights whereas poetry wants each word weighing in. of course one can turn to such a poem as Aram Saroyan's that consisted of one word: lighght. I always found metre rather distracting. the smartasses like to crow how everything by Dickinson can be sung to “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. yes, if you give unequal weight to the words, which can hardly have been her intent. in fact, she puts so much weight on each word, that her syntax perforce becomes puzzling. “Goshawks” does illustrate a sense of momentum in which I write. hefting those three words as they arrive, then the next, then the next. I'm incapable of the spare sort of compression of Robert Grenier, or look at Tom Beckett's work. your own poetry often has an 18th century lyric sound, yet words jam together in a tidy compression. I think my own compression consists in elision, which I do as I write. so anyway, here is a poem of yours.


Sawsharks 3a.m. Kingda Ka 3a.m. Tertiary 3a.m. Greenfinch
Steel Dragon 3a.m. Triassic 3a.m. Jackdaw 3a.m. Arsenic
Quaternary 3a.m. Swift 3a.m. Hemlock 3a.m. Gettysburg
Raven 3a.m. Wolfsbane 3a.m. Murfreesboro 3a.m. Violin
Cyanide 3a.m. Chancellorsville 3a.m. Clavichord 3a.m. Arquebus
Vicksburg 3a.m. Pipa 3a.m. Flintlock 3a.m. Mallard...

this poem marks an odd confluence. one notes a number of sources combining here, seemingly several lists intermixed. it is true that each element, even the repeated time, bears equal weight. I think I could kill the poem by explaining it. I like how it opens terrific possibilities.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


JH: To throw a work to eternity, to refute or ignore a poem: these soon become past actions. How is a literary work a description of an author's past actions (which include the composition of, and the decision to compose, a literary work)? Isn't it ownership alone that allows a writing's author to make decisions regarding its survival, ownership that could be termed secrecy, the author being the only person who originally (and, potentially, ultimately) knows of the text? Allowing a text to survive, to whatever degree, is the only description of its author's actions. What is described when an author writes of the destruction or concealment of past writing? Could this be termed allusion rather than description, an allusion whose referent is coterminous with the allusion (since another reader cannot confirm, or speculate, the referent)?

AHB: I like that sense of allusion you make, allusions to a work's potential. there are so many works that never happen, projects that fail to be finished or just vague, wondrous ideas, maybe not even expressed, just floating in the brain. and the artist makes choices of what among the ideas will be the one to work on. so the artist seems to take possession of the work that he/she accomplishes. and can hide or destroy that work, or pump it up. these are strange issues. an artist chooses to be busy, to some extent. that's the main thing, really. the mind is timeless but the body isn't. the artist tries to coax some sense out of the work being done, as a means of motivation, I guess, and as an explanation or apologia to the world. yet that can be no more than a nudge. much of my own art life has been withheld from public view, for reasons of non-boldness or whatever the failing. now I make more effort, which serves to define my work as something. anyway, this odd, short poem of yours, which you posted to Wryting, has a quirky dazzle:

To the Vermeil Selene

This red shading but a rose, and although storied the frailest she the moon rose --- the red of you is the which of me? The running of the world is exceedingly silent --- as when the sky puts the fan to the moon's brow, to her locks. Selene!, were I equal foe against the drift of years!

it seems to be a disjunctive version of some 18th century or earlier English poem. it seems both channeled and filtered.