Saturday, March 24, 2007


JH: I submit poems for publication when a journal appeals to me, by its project, by its editor(s), by its inclusion of authors whom I admire (whether these authors are new or familiar), by a variety of attractions. When I deliberately began to study poetry, I discarded my notes almost as soon as I made them - no trace remained of what author was read before another, of what book lead to another. Now that I'm writing poetry, I discard my drafts, so no trace remains of what lines were erased, altered, or added. I wanted to move away, then, from someone who knew less about poetry and poetics the previous day, and I want to move away, now, from someone with an uncompleted poem. This eradication of process is a personal means of keeping growth impersonal, imperceptible, as though I was always today's poet. Where does the labor go, or what does it become, if it is not seen publicly in the poem via drafts appended or discoverable, nor personally in the poet's memory? Have you ever abandoned a poem? I have abandoned poems many times, discarding the attempts. Do you remember lines from these poems? I remember some lines from one of my abandoned poems. I have abandoned uncompleted poems, never a finished poem. Have you ever abandoned a finished poem? When do you decide a poem is complete?

AHB: I take the antipodal view from you. I like seeing the whole trail a poem follows as it becomes. But this may be mere curiosity, I don't downright learn from seeing this. Your approach sounds Buddhist, or self-ultimate, as Kerouac had it. I like that idea of always being today's poet. Wordsworth and Whitman are famous for having revised their work so much. The criticism there is that they are revising themselves not the work. I look back at older work and see nothing that I can revise. Another person wrote that, whether less wise or not I guess I can't say (tho I have my suspicions). I am not sure if I abandon a poem, that connotes negatively. I've stopped working on poems, and on series. That's often a logistical matter where I didn't get a chance to stay with the work and its impetus. Often enough, tho, it is a matter of go littel boke. the words have been writ now they must find a way for themselves. You ask, where does the effort go? We like to think that Michael Jordan received basketball skills from on high but he practiced obsessively. he was gifted with a physical body that could accomplish what he did but he had to train himself to perform his lauded acts of basketball. I think poetry is processual, whether or not we can observe the machinations of that process. Charles Olson comes to mind, who had these vast yet murky theoretical and philosophical ideas. His poetry and prose both show fragments of that thinking. The latter Maximus particularly proffer bits and glimmers of what he sought and followed. That lack of completion interested me. My own work is disjunctive, and I think that that disjunction is important. That I avoid determining completion. Because completion would stop the process. I'm not sure how this plays against your own perspective. Obviously, process exists in your work, you simply withhold the evidence. So perhaps your work lives within a disjunction too, or ellipsis, I'm not sure. The impetus or inspiration occurs here, you proceed with the writing process, arriving at a finished poem. You discard all that led to that poem. Your work is disjunctive in that way, as well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


JH: I'm looking forward to reading Open Elegy. Could you say something about Open Elegy, please? Your comparison of a poem notebook to a diary is apt. A notebook in which one writes poems (and I, for one, transcribe finished poems into a spiral notebook, then throw the drafts away) resembles a diary in being a record of personal action, especially if variants of individual poems are part of the notebook, and/or if pensées are interspersed. What are your notebook habits, past and present and wishful? Mine have always been the same. I may some day publish a poem with variants appended. Are you interested in variants? Should every poem include variants? An unobtrusive means would be a note below the poem giving line and word variants, in chronological order if more than one per instance. Why, if I'm interested in variants, haven't I done this, or kept private records of my variants? I'm interested in variants other than my own, I suppose. But readers may be interested in my variants, which goes to the idea of publishing one's poems in case others might be interested in them. It is submitting to an interest other than your own, a potential, even unhoped-for, interest. Publication, variants, -- what are other things a reader may receive? Poetics, an explanation of individual poems, notes on references, auto/biographical information, and the poet's publishing history. These are incidental to the poem, and may be fictional. Could there be a fictional poem -- that is, a poem that is not a poem? Is a poem certain characteristics (lineation, non-prosaic use of language, announcement that this is a poem, etc) plus a reader? An author may create what could be defined as a fictional poem as a hoax and criticism (an example is Ern Malley) or to create a literary reputation (which raises the question, is literature the safety net beneath poetry?).

AHB: Open Elegy is a short series of poems I wrote last fall, under the influence of someone's death. I did post the poems to Wryting (I post pretty much everything I feel is finished there). I like the series, but it was more of an exercise, working with And I got to typeset, use my own photo for the cover and otherwise make decisions. And it is a pleasure to see the work in a finished shape. As to notebooks, I've used all sort of strategies with them. I've done inclusive ones, in which everything goes in: journal entries, poems, notes, doodles. And I've kept notebooks segregated. The segregation practice tends to fall apart because I'll want a notebook quickly and be unable to find the appropriate one. I like pocket-sized notebooks (like from Muleskine: love those) to carry with me. I used to disdain hardbound journals, and stayed strictly with spiral bound notebooks, but I've broadened my view. In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we get a shot of Indy's father's journal: filled with notes and drawings and sheets tipped in: it's my vision of the perfect notebook. my use of notebooks tends to be incidental, off the top of my head. At a time when I wasn't writing much poetry, I still kept a notebook in which, every night before I went to sleep, I wrote 2 or 3 little poems. I'm interested that you discard your drafts. Why do you discard? In essence, I do this too, because when I make changes, I overwrite the previous version on the computer. When I worked with a typewriter, I scrupulously (as scrupulously as I can be, at least) numbered and kept each draft. I always dated the draft, and for some reason, noted the line count. I guess you don't consider the possibility of going back to a previous version. It is fascinating to see how a work evolves, that was something I liked in the Paris Review pictures of manuscript pages, tho mine doesn't evolve much anymore. What changes I make now tend to be cosmetic: typos and maybe some line adjustments. I kind of think of my notebook poems as fictional. They rarely get a real life, insofar as I don't often even type them out. Many of my notebooks went to the Ohio State archive that John Bennett oversees: they are completely out of my hands now. It sounds like what's in the notebooks are ready to publish when the opportunity arises. Do yiu have a publication plan of attack of some sort?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


JH: It doesn't seem that the zeitgeist understands classic books. It understands manufacture and the gesture toward consumption. I was looking at finished poems in my notebooks, and thought the page and websites would be another resting place. My poems could be visible to other people, and to other poems. My poems would be part of another person's store of read material, and part of what is available to another poet. I was reading a lot of ezines, and decided they were more interesting than a lot of print journals I was reading. I was first accepted by BlazeVox (my e-book Apollo's Bastards), then by Moria, then by MAG and other ezines. This was in 2002. Also in 2002, I was accepted by the print journals Nerve Lantern and Xerography. The next year, more ezines, and the print journals Sentence, Cranky, and others. There was satisfaction, in that something I had thought about in childhood had come to pass, and I was now aware of how I, personally, was as unknown to a reader as previously and would continue to be unknown no matter how many of my poems were published. This put me, as it does all authors, on the same level as a posthumously published author. Looking at the page, Geoffrey Chaucer is as distant as Allen Bramhall or Jeff Harrison. Publication allowed me to read my poem as a poem, not as something I wrote, as it wasn't in my handwriting or was recently typed for purposes of submission or posting. Building a body of publication, like building a body of work through writing, is an attempt to build an organism from poems. Changes may be made to this organism, by the poet or people other than the poet or natural circumstances such as fire, but it does not affect my life other than the task of building. Like the recurrence of Emily Dickinson poems in my poetry, and the recurrence of Virginia, this has nothing to do with me. Once a poet is published, the organism of poems is on its own, before and after the death of or living abandonment by the poet. Publication added a route next to my route of writing; the impulse to write is now accompanied by the impulse to publish. What are the beginnings of your publication history? What are your thoughts on publication?

AHB: some people regard poetry as an intensely private act. In such sitch, you write your poems in precious notebooks, like a diary, and maybe show them to some intimate. When I began writing, I right off showed my work to a friend who also wrote, so I always had this sense of writing as public. I knew no acceptable venue for my work (I assumed the snotty ass literary journal was strictly for honour students). I understand the distinction that you make concerning your work transmuted from notebook to page or website. It goes from internal musing to external life of its own. At Franconia College, lo these many, 2 of my poems were published in the college review without my knowledge. I imagine this happened to most of the contributors, the creative writing teacher submitted the work. And someone in the process made minor changes to the poems. That was my 1st publication. The same thing happened the next year. More substantially, Robert Grenier, now teaching poetry at the school, liked a long poem I wrote and asked to publish it in his own magazine, This 3. so my 1st publications were done without my seeking. Periodically over the years, I would send work out, even my 1st novel, and never got anything in print. Whenever I got the submission back I'd wonder why I chose those works, or see glaring places I could have improved. It continues that most of what I've published has been asked for. Which I feel is a good editorial practice. That an editor ought to seek work that he/she likes, and not just await the fortuitous submission. I very much favour the doing it yourself approach to publication. My friend Stephen Ellis has published lots of people, including me, in his broadside series. All he needs is access to a computer and printer. I just put together a short chapbook at If this isn't as cost-effective as it might be (I haven't done a cost-analysis), it is a simpler process than going to your local printer. But the point is, I like the hands on, tho I am not that techno minded, so I struggle some. A year or 2 ago I did the inevitable search on my name, and discovered some of my poems I didn't know were published. Someone asked for poems years ago, and I sent some. I never heard anything back. So those poems had a life I was unaware of. Dickinson's fascicles were a sort of publication, even if only a select few saw them. I would even say that's how they should be read. That (perhaps) it is as much of a bowdlerization to print out her poems, and reorganize them, as to discard her marvelous dashes. I imagine most poets would continue writing even if there were no way to publish the work. And I am convinced that much of that work, ne'ertheless, will find readership. eventually.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


JH: One could write poetry and read books and not publish, and survive. Memory, personal and cultural, is the only thing that is affected by not publishing. The books on one's shelves and the poems in one's notebooks are identical in physical presence. Why publish, then? This question is tied in, inextricably, with questions of why art, why literature, why poetry, why culture. An unpublished poet who whose productions would be despised by popular, elite, and all in between is indistinguishable from a mandarin poet whose never-to-be seen poetry would be acclaimed eternally by noted poets and commentators - both are perfect writers (arguably, this perfection exists even with publication of both poets). To be published is to be announced as a writer, not a poet, except as practitioner of the genre termed poetry. Me, I like publication - because I would hate to miss out on poems by Allen Bramhall, among others. What do you not entirely trust about William Faulkner? I love the ambiance attached to poetry and art - if by ambience you mean the je ne sais quoi about poetry and art, what is brought to mind in the absence of a specific example of a poem or artwork, a poet or artist. If you mean poetry scenes, whether literary or face-to-face, I tend to be wary of them, although positive things have come from them. Do you think poetry scenes artificially create recurrences? By recurrences I mean things that reoccur in a poet's writing - such as methods, style, and words. Outside of a poetry scene, recurrences are self-imposed or imposed from outside of intention. Aliens reoccur in your work, Virginia in mine. Are "aliens" and "Virginia" synonyms? There are also less frequent recurrences. For example, in January 2005 I deliberately alluded to the closing lines of an Emily Dickinson poem (449 - "I died for beauty") in my poem "Weak As Roses: Wherein The Most Transparent Deception Is Yet A Cipher Undaunted".

In January 2006, I unintentionally alluded to the closing line of another Emily Dickinson poem (320 - "We play at Paste") in my poem "I practiced these sands, the freshest crowns". (P.F.S. Post does not pluralize "crowns" in the title, and capitalizes all the words in the title, otherwise the poem is posted as I wrote it). What does it mean that I alluded to a Dickinson poem in the same month of adjoining years? Is it just coincidence? In 2007, I quoted, deliberately, but not thinking of the two JH poems mentioned above, the penultimate line of Dickinson's 449. However, this was in February 2007, not January, suggesting more than the patness of coincidence. Are there any such infrequent recurrences in your poetry? I should add "that you know of", thinking that there are many recurrences in my poems, and in any poet's, that I cannot see.

AHB: In the years in which I had I'll call it no connection to other living writers, I still read lots of current writers, perhaps more than I do now. So I was part of the scene that way. But I have realized that meeting other writers (by the various means now possible) has been important for me. Just on the level of thinking I've written something kinda cool, I'd like people to read it. The Poetics list is almost entirely announcements of what people have done lately, like the 3 latest poems someone has now published in some mag or zine. The outward push should be balanced by inward reception. Does the zeitgeist understand classic books? I mean classic as in an artist's home run clout. Seems like an overly eager expectation of the next book exists, rather than patience to delve into the present one. Which tendency I attribute to the abundance of publication possibilities and ease of publication: so much stuff is available. I distrust Faulkner in how he may be too canny at times with his effects. he was a Hollywood writer, so did he get tainted by the power to play to the cheap seats? I wonder sometimes. In the flush of work that can be seen now, one must be wary of the imitative, the correct, the unexploring, because so much work is being cranked out. I'm reading My Angie Dickinson by Michael Magee, which is an intersection of Emily Dickinson with pop culture. Magee uses various techniques to translate (I'm not sure that would be his word) Emily's work from her own little world to the greater one. I would call Emily's work subversive, the way she plays with, mocks, changes forms and thinking. I suppose you could say Magee's effort emphasizes actualities in the shiftiness of pop culture. I'm not clear here (I'm thinking as I write). Perhaps we can say that Dickinson gave up the idea of publishing because she saw no way for her iconoclasm to exist. I cannot say what her satisfactions or lack thereof might be, in her commitment to refrain from publication. I like the idea of my “Aliens” and your “Virginia” as being synonyms. The specific meaning I may see in aliens may differ from how you see Virginia, yet in both cases we see a mutable constant, if that paradox isn't too precious. On my side, I do not ascribe to aliens in any meaty way: no tin foil helmets here. But the idea, in a very trashy scifi way, appeals to me narratively. Which brings to mind the sense of narrative that we, everyone, live. The coincidence you cited with your Dickinson poems asserts (even in your question) a narrative that transcends, possibly, your ambition as a writer. You are caught wondering if you'll always or even just once again reference Dickinson on a specific date. I cannot think offhand if I have similar recurrences, tho I suspect I do. How did you come to be published at first? Did you decide that what you wrote needed to be seen? Was there satisfaction in getting published? Did publication change your course?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


JH: I'm looking forward to reading Days Poem! What was the act of writing daily like? Have you done this before, whether on a long work or independent works? Could you write something about your poem "further proof that poems exist"? I find appealing your terming Emily Dickinson an "undistracted poet". What is a poet distracted by? Can a poet, when writing poetry, be distracted by anything other than an outside influence (a person on business from Porlock distracting Coleridge forever from the continuation of "Kubla Khan")? Can distractions be favorable to the poem? Are there two types of poets, the distracted poet and the undistracted poet? Or only two types of poems, distracted and undistracted? The idea of novels being an influence on poetry is one I've thought about -- does one borrow a way of thinking from novels that becomes accessible to poetry? I suspect prose has become an influence on my poetry - such as the syntax that lurks around median punctuation (the punctuation within a sentence - "sentence" including sentences that make up a large sentence).

AHB: Dickinson had a ferocious focus, it seems to me. She pressed on in her way, against cultural imperatives, for instance. Her poems don't seem to fail, because she is so homed in on the process. That is, even her less successful ones assert the larger project of her poetic life. In writing Days Poem, I felt the need to be undistracted. I've written novels, on a daily basis, but I felt a greater imperative with Days Poem. For 5 months, for instacne, our son was bedridden with a broken (in 3 places) femur. His care filled our day, so that I had to squeeze writing in, sometimes desperately. the feeling of persistence and perseverance was strong. I didn't want to miss a day, tho I did miss a few. That guy from Porlock shows up all the time. It's not just a time squeeze but also the ancillary “thinking” that impinges on the pure product. You think of Higginson, if that's his name, pretty much going holy shit!!! on meeting Dickinson's intensity face to face. Artists aren't crazy per se but they represent something awfully close, at least at times. Imitation and influence can be extremely distracting. Novels influence my work exactly as a way of thinking. Henry James really fascinates me because his stories so often lack story. Instead they exist as constructs in which this arch ruminator simply ruminates. So that Clover Adams could well say of James: he chaws more than he bites off. Though it is that chaw that I find so remarkable. The other novelists that I mentioned (and I should include Faulkner, tho I don't entirely trust him) all stretch out in their thoughts. regarding”Further Proof that Poems Exist”, it too would be a rumination, directed even. It's an oracular sort of piece in its necessity surrounding the poem's acceptance as a worthily created product of the imagination. I'm at times amazed at how seriously I take poetry, because I'm so wary of the whole ambiance attached to poetry and art. Are you at all? I spent a lot of years thoroughly unconnected to anything approaching a poetry scene. I knew no writers, and no listservs or blogs alternatives existed then. Could you exist as a writer in such a way? Could you just read books and make poetry and not publish, and still survive???

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


H: Does a poet become identical, for the duration of composition, with the choice of procedure? Does this lend humanity to obdurate words, or blanche the author to an extent sufficient for the poem's words to arrive? A recent poem of yours, titled "further proof that poems exist", is lovely and poetics-provoking:

Poets call for improved marveling. Too many words left unregistered.
More lilting could do trick.

Exotic dancers cite location as imperative. Their sitting replaces
words. Words aren't properly situated. Time now to react.

Later agitation occurs with revelation of loss. Nobody meant to mean
nothing, it just happened. A poem harnessed for years becomes unglued.

What are we to make of making? asks poet, some sort of dullard, or
expert in raining.

Trees instead of vacation, asserts the remedy. Unhand the glossary, step
back from function.

Tremendous tides in the sea place risk on shorelines. Ravenous sharks
eat openly. Swimmers divagate in the morning, digest in the afternoon. A
poem in this oracular jungle cannot stay trained.

Literally pulled back, as if track of each word would dedicate too much.
Some explanation was “necessary”, yet diligence could not hold on. Shark
swallowed something, performed no evaluation.

The poet has gauze for eyes, observed a textual champion. Inside
observation replaces outer reception. Programming language paces a
display “in the future”. The future cancels poem's beginning.

Shark futures distribute food in randomly excited parcels. Poets like
their chances just staying afloat. Poems, meanwhile, remain mindless.


Could you speak on this poem, please? I would also like to hear more about Days Poem. We were tagged by Anny Ballardini to list the ten books that most influenced our writing. Ten (plus one) authors very important to my writing are, in no particular order:

1. Edgar Allan Poe.
2. Walt Whitman. Among many other qualities, I admired and learned an inclusiveness that could more accurately be termed an additioning; the lyricism of ( / within) prosiness; the apparency of inspiration, in that every poem that arrived to Whitman seemingly resulted in a written poem (and from this I gathered Posterity, like Nature, takes whatever is present).
3. Barbara Guest. Together with Louis Zukofsky, an impetus to a change in direction for my poems. This change occurred in the Summer of 2001, a year before I started publishing. A chord struck.
4. John Milton.
5. Stéphane Mallarmé.
6. Paul Valéry, especially his writings on poetry.
7. Charles Baudelaire.
8. Emanuel Swedenborg.
9. The King James Bible.
10. Ezra Pound, especially his early poems, and his writings on poetry.

Each of these is more landmark than influence, which means to flow in, which would be not only too much a myriad to record (as a verb), but also mostly unknown to record (as a noun). The project was to list ten books, not authors, so here is a book list: The King James Bible (anonymous committee), Leaves Of Grass (Whitman), ABC of Reading (Ezra Pound), Flowers of Evil (Baudelaire), Heaven and Hell (Swedenborg), Selected Writings (Paul Valéry), Poems (Mallarmé), Complete Poems (Milton), Complete Tales and Poems (Poe), All: The Collected Short Poems 1923-1964 (Zukofsky), Rocks on a Platter (Guest). What is your list? PS: We've been collaborating on our poem "Monster" since the beginning of 2003.

AHB: I think yes a poet becomes identical with choice of procedure. A poet serves as the poem's means. I can use Days Poem to illustrate. I began Days Poem under the influence of a book by Jim Leftwich called Doubt. I liked its dense yet sinuous prose and, perhaps as importantly, that it ran 500 pages. Days Poem quickly found its own path, which was a tumble of “characters” that I kept returning to: Walden Pond, bears, hobos, Tarzan and Jane, Fu Manchu. It is journal like in that I wrote daily, in a fiercely necessary way. It took 14 months to write and at times it seemed (like our Monster) to be never ending. It is nearly 1000 pages and, I am surprised and proud to say, light on its feet. To me, the work rather clearly shows some of my influences. Leftwich and Peter Ganick (another poet of awesome, incredible extent), Thoreau, and of course the sort of all action narrative for which I still harbour a taste. To apply myself more seriously to Anny's list request, I find it difficult to answer. I'll start with a list of books:
1) Maximus Poems. Olson has meant much to me but perhaps most especially for bringing in the “non-poetic” (history and all that) into the poem for me.
2) New American Poetry. its flaws are now obvious, if not legion, but it introduced numerous excellent writers to me, and it had Olson's Projective Verse.
3) Ron Silliman issue of The Difficulties, edited by Tom Beckett. I got a formative understanding of LANGUAGE poetry from this, tho I should add the other issues (Bernstein, Bromige, Howe).
4) WCW, Selected Poems. possibly the 1st poetry that caught me.
5) WCW, Spring and All. an eye opening adventure.
6) Pieces, Robert Creeley. I never really enjoyed his earlier stuff, but this druggy collection worked for me. My sense of the line very much owes to him.
7) Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein. I didn't think literature could do this, and then I realized that it could.
8) collected Whitman. expansiveness and embrace.
9) Tender Harvest (selected), Emily Dickinson. the undistracted poet.
10) John Keats selected. romantic intensity and acceptance.
10+) Thoreau's journal. daily grind and look about.
I would place a number of novels on the list, because of how they cross boundaries: Moby Dick, Ulysses, A La Recherche, several by Virginia Woolf, Henry James' oeuvre (regarded as a single work: his stories all seem to be part of one large massive endeavour). And I would add Baudelaire's prose works, and... and... and...
and already I see I forgot Cantos and ABC of Reading, A Day at the Beach (Grenier), Midwinter Day (Mayer). I'll stop there.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


JH: Procedure fascinates me, too. Is the specific procedural idea, "idea" for lack of a better word, the poem, or is the procedure the poem? If something other than the written product is the poem, what is the written product called? What does it mean to return to previously written procedure? I wrote the first GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE in February 2005, and wrote a second one a couple of days later. The third GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE wasn't written until July 2006. I've written them fairly steadily since then (36 to date). How does one decide to return to a procedure, or, in the case of revision, a non-procedural poem? We have earlier spoken of series - is a series a revisiting? How much time must go by before continuity is revisiting? On the page a ten-year break between cantos or a line is indistinguishable from instantaneity. Is there a difference between continuity and revisiting? How well does an occasion travel? When you write, what in the non-writer must stop in order for the writer to begin? By write, I mean any kind of writing that is not a conversion of speech into print. Do you get stage fright before you write (this is opposed to what is known as "writer's block", which is an inability to write)? Is the poet ("poet" defined here as what causes a person to write, from start to finish, when a poem is to be written) altered by this oscillation from writer to non-writer? Does a person have memories of being a poet, as he or she has of being a person? Is one ever a poet when not writing - how would one know? There is an occasion of being a person, and there is an occasion of being a poet - how well does one occasion travel to the other occasion? It is likely that the person carries over to the poet; is there a vice-versa of the poet carrying over to the person? If so, how would the poet manifest itself in the person - only in writing, or in occasions of non-writing?

AHB: pick a question to answer. It does seem part of a poem that one used particular procedures to produce the text rather than “made it up”. And yet, the reader hadn't ought to belabour the idea of a trick. It doesn't matter to me whether an angel or muse gave me a poem, or that I used a procedure or program. I remember discussion about August Highland's work, which is produced (at least some of it) using programs that he did not write. Someone wondered if the programmer should be considered the author. Well, should the programmer be granted credit for writing the program, or should the person who created the computer? Argh! I credit the one who says they are making a poem. The point is that any work receives tributaries from many directions. Works of art seem like instants, yet they are created in time. My own poem, Days Poem (soon to be published, Meritage Press) continually refers to hobos, Tarzan & Jane, bears, Walden Pond, Fu Manchu, and so on: all as what I would call characters. The collaboration that you and I have been doing—for how many years now????—relies similarly on re-referencing of similar characters. I think in both cases a revelation or evolution is witnessed. That witnessing presses the writing forward. Poems are occasions. To write, one must accept the occasion. When I am busy or distracted, the occasion is elsewhere. I can write for short spells, 5 minutes say, and feel productive, yet I need some writing focus to start things. I used to write much more than I do now. I feel as much a writer and poet now, tho I write less. I don't meet with poets often, and when I do, the occasion is not necessarily marked by a lot of poetry talk. Yet these occasions fuel me as a poet. Tho in these circs, perhaps I am poet only in name tag. Certainly I see things thru the prism of poet, and whatever I do could influence my writing of poetry, but I guess I am not consumed by it all. I used to run 2-3 hours a day, and in a way I was a runner the entire day, because I'd be hungry and thirsty all the time, plus I'd always carry this energized weariness with me from, I suppose, the endorphin release. Mayhap something similar occurs as a poet.

Friday, March 02, 2007


JH: Thanks! The names in "The Recital" are from the Appius and Virginia story (the tale of a Virginia who was the daughter of a centurion named Virginius. Virginius killed Virginia to save her from Appius Claudius Crassus, a decemvir - a member of a group of ten judges, which is said to have been the beginning of the end of the office of decemvir), first found in Livy, and repeated in many elsewheres. The 14 lines the characters tell are lines from 14 sonnets. The first line in "The Recital" is from the first line of a sonnet, the second line is from the second line of a different sonnet, continuing in this manner to the 14th line, which is from the 14th line of a 14th sonnet. Here are the authors used, and their sonnets, in order of appearance:

1. Barnabe Barnes "ah sweet content..." from sonnet 46 of "Parthenophil and Parthenophe"
2. Matthew Arnold "we ask and ask..." from "Shakespeare"
3. Christina Rossetti "loathsome and foul..." from "The World"
4. Sir Thomas Wyatt "do never appear..." from sonnet beginning "Some fouls there be"
5. Sir Walter Raleigh "my lost delights..." from sonnet beginning "Like truthless dreams"
6. Edgar Allan Poe "how many thoughts..." from "Sonnet - To Zante"
7. John Milton "and at thy growing virtues..." from sonnet 9
8. George Meredith "now the black planet..." from "Lucifer In Starlight"
9. Samuel Daniel "The world shall find..." from sonnet 33 of "Delia"
10. Robert Southey "restless through Fortune's..." from sonnet beginning "With many a weary step, at length I gain"
11. William Shakespeare "ruin hath taught me..." from Sonnet 64
12. Elizabeth Barrett Browning "Some prescience..." from Sonnet 20 of "Sonnets from the Portuguese"
13. George Gascoigne "each hour a day..." from Sonnet 2 of "Alexander Nevile delivered him this theame... whereupon hee compiled these seven Sonets in sequence..." (sequence begins with
"In haste poste haste, when first my wandring minde"
14. Ezra Pound "as white their bark..." from "A Virginal"

Each line from a sonnet is offered complete and largely unchanged from how it is found in editions of the author's poems: I modernized the spelling in the lines by Wyatt, Raleigh, Milton, Daniel, and Gascoigne, and I did not retain capitalization of the first word of any of the sonnet lines, nor did I retain end punctuation. In all of the Arnold editions I consulted, the "Thou" of the second line of his sonnet "Shakespeare" was capitalized, but I did not retain this capitalization. My lower-casing of the lines' initial letter led me to question if "ruin" in Shakespeare's sonnet 64 was an apostrophe. I retained capitalization of the apostrophe "Fortune" and the proper noun "Arctic". Although "Time" is an apostrophe in sonnet 64, I decided not to present "ruin" as an apostrophe. This brings to mind the existence of concealed apostrophe - an apostrophe that occurs only in a position where any word is capitalized. Such an apostrophe could be made made explicit by content that would encourage the reader to infer the word is an apostrophe, and/or by other apostrophes within the poem's lines. I use lower-case letters in my poems except for apostrophes, proper nouns, and dialogue within quotation marks. I use punctuation in my poems only when grammatically necessary; that is to say, where it pertains to the meaning of the line, to create discrete units. However, in my prose poems, so far, I use standardized sentence capitalization and punctuation. It's the presence of the line as opposed to the sentence (and vice-versa) that dictates my decisions on capitalization and punctuation. Speaking of ambiguity, the Laurel Poetry Series edition of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry (1959. Edited by Richard Wilbur, who was also the general editor of this series from Dell Publishing Company, Inc.) has line 3 of "Sonnet - To Zante" as identical with line 6, making the first six lines read

Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,
Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take!
How many thoughts of what entombéd hopes!
At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
How many scenes of what departed bliss!
How many thoughts of what entombéd hopes!

In addition to the new poem this typo presents, it changes the scheme of "The Recital" - the sixth line of "The Recital" is the sixth line of this "To Zante", and it is also the third line. What does unforeseen expansion do to form, to allusion, to quotation? Moving on to the plot, the action, of "The Recital", it can be envisioned as a theatre performance (the script of which is in the past tense, and lacks stage direction). The "bark" of "white bark" Virginia mentions could refer to white in lines 3 and 12 ("white" does not appear as a word in line 3, but "leprosy" is associated with white -see, for example, Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" line 192 "Her skin was white as leprosy"). Line 8 contains the word "snows", which is associated with white, but these snows are shadowed by the black planet. Association further expands the reading of a poem, as "white" could conceivably be associated with other words in other lines in this poem (after all, the word "their" of "their white bark" can admit two or a million). On the level of the sonnet, "The Recital" retains the sonnet by Barnabe Barnes, to use the first instance, but obscures 13 of the lines with other lines, 13 bodies overshadowing 99 percent of sonnet 46 from "Parthenophil and Parthenophe".

AHB: procedure fascinates me. Your use of sonnet is apt, as that form seems to be a re(con)straint for the writer, I mean beyond the metre/rhyme formality. A sonnet tends to be a specific occasion. I'm thinking of the sonnet writing contests that those rowdy English Romantics used to get all up side of. A sonnet seems to quantify an emotion or emotional moment in a formal, stylized way. It is that stylization that comes thru in your poem. Back to thoughts of procedure, I've used flarfian procedure to make poems. That means not just googling for phrases, but maintaining an attitude (just as the sonnet writer has an attitude towards the poem's subject, lofty and enriched). The procedure allows a letting go, not just of my vocabulary (by using the found words) but also my poem-making attitude. I'm not commenting on the real flarf writers, just myself, tho I will say that those who force the flarf writers to fulfill their own manifestos (what the real flarf writers have said about their work), or who invent manifestos for the flarfsters to fulfill, are just playing games with limits. Your poem here, and the way you often work, is a skewed re-visioning. You remove the lines from their born context, yet their nature is not obliterated. A similar transformation can occur with googled poems, in which the reader recognizes the original context of the words, yet can perceive a synchronous event that partakes of those words while still distinguishing itself. I've diddled a little lately with the sort of ways you've gone. I haven't your patience, but it is an interesting method for me even so. There are other ways of letting the poem find itself. Jack Kimball has recently been collecting what he calls romantic spam. I can't remember the name of the person on the Wryting list who has been using a Bernadette Mayer procedure to collect sentences from listservs. These methods all advocate an eye for poetry, eye and ear that is. That the hike up Parnassus isn't always the same path. Basically, if a procedure makes people nervous, it has got to be good.