Tuesday, July 24, 2007


JH: The "cares" the wreath mentions is a word that derives from the word "voice", the "charm" the worldly mention(s) derives from "song" and "incantation", and "fable" from "speak". Among other things, "scale" can mean an instrument for weighing (all weighs lightly, soft, after being burned, especially a wreath), and can mean magnitude -- Phoebus announces his intention to walk beneath the wreath's boughs, and announces he will be caverned in this wreath - this would lend the meaning that either the wreath is incredibly large or Phoebus is minute. Phoebus may be living, or he may be an adornment, an artwork on the wreath (that is already adorned by an inscription). The only attributes of Phoebus in this poem are his torches, which are ambiguous in size - "They are the interior form of Aetna, certainly!", yet they also crackle, which would make one think of smaller fires. "They" of "They are the interior form of Aetna, certainly!" may refer to Phoebus along with the torches. The inscription on the wreath (an appended ribbon, or engraved on the wreath if it is an art object) announces as in "reads", and the reader of the poem "Phoebus Wreathed" reads the same inscription, "I hold this clime, Phoebus, as mine", as the poem's "worldly". The poem is the product of an unknown speaker who begins the poem with "Would there a wreath that would reprove fires" (in the sense of "would that there were a wreath..."). The speaker is henceforth identifiable only through the poem's tenses. The various tenses in one narration mirror the multiple meanings of words and the punning phrases in "Phoebus Wreathed" ("disported with other storms" & "any port in a storm", "I hate a lair" & "I hate a liar", etc.). In the first sentence, the colon reveals that the wreath reproves fires via its inscription (perhaps Phoebus is identified with the fires; in mythology, Phoebus Apollo is identified with the sun, and Apollo is no stranger to a wreath, making a laurel wreath from the metamorphosed Daphne. "Phébus" in French literature is a term used for ornate and anachronistic writing - after a 14th century book on hunting by Gaston Fébus, "Miroir de Phébus"); in the third sentence the wreath speaks of the fires - is this inferred by the worldly, or is it an invention of the speaker of "Phoebus Wreathed"? Could the speaker of "Phoebus Wreathed" be a wreath? The fiction behind the poem is standing between the authorial hand and its poem as the quatrain stands between the prose of "Phoebus Wreathed". I love your exquisite poem "stray touch of the summer porch"! Could you write about this poem, please?

This is the bending porch. In time, green is silly: those mock orange blossoms contain mental image pressed into white flowers just to grow. Beyond, the strange important patch of waiting that places all time in writing. Then the rains come, children. Then leaves fall. Then, dears all, snow begs the question. Waiting to a luck of finding out, you, love, you. The mock orange, the sighing ferns, and a planet still in love. No, the trees are not just heavenly, but (pausing in the smell) quiet with the resolve to fill the year. The year waits. The green where people walk is given. Then storms, again and again. The rain of spring is over. The rain of summer builds. Wait for snow, the dying sigh of mock orange blossoms. The angle of the sun creates a blush in trees. You are forgetting the warm soil, friends. Or are you awake when the sentence begins? Quaking middle of the day when the green is lively with
people, common ground. The sights are fine for having. A clutch of mosquitoes and the dog urges eager. Birds are incredible, dated to the pause. When we sit, it happens forever. Even street noise includes our words. The bending porch is tonal and strong. When all waking needs us, we ready our impression. Vast flowers, that is, keep all of us together.

AHB: A recondite quality exists in your poem. What especially interests me is how the seemingly borrowed language (whether you imitate or actually quote) situates the poem's meaning. I could not guess much that you attribute to your poem. If I were better read in the literature you work from, I could hold more. Yet that doesn't matter. Your instigation is the sparkling fuse tat sets the poem's bomb off, if that aint just about the most clumsy metaphor (land sakes alive!!!) It doesn't matter if I don't get the fuse: the bomb went off! Interpretation of a poem isn't archaeology, fitting pieces together to some master puzzle, but an energy transfer. You made a bomb (poem) that went off when I read it. The bomb you intended is not the explosion I experienced (more than likely), but I certainly experienced something. My porch poem, well, it has its own recondite beginnings. We're moving to a new place. This place boasts a porch that looks onto the town green. The porch is perhaps more selling point than it had ought to be, but we love it. My poem is simply an exercise of description, tho description of a more privately wrought sort. For me, the poem is a straightforward description of out porch experience. For anyone else, the possibilities are open. Maybe my explanation is prosaic, so that if you read it with this info in mind, you might feel that the translation were superficial. I can't answer to that. It was a serious event for me to process the porch, and what it entails, into the language that poetry is for me. What do you think of this idea of translation? Do you feel that readers should get your poem in some way as you intended?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


JH: I agree that prose is now stronger on the page. The written word is artwork that is coincidentally read. Spoken words are speech. One may more easily superimpose speech considerations, such as pauses, upon a written text than literary considerations upon speech. Speech is lost on the wind, whereas lost literature is a conceit within an existing text. Of its getting lost, speech can only say you will not remember. Lost literature illustrates, to no viewer, the loss of a world - the text and its readers. Upon departure, literature takes its loss along with it. Are thoughts more accurately compared to speech or to text? Does literature reach further back into thought than speech does, or does it elaborate and refine thought?

AHB: I don't know if thoughts are more accurately comparable to speech, but it makes me wonder about improvising texts aloud. Instead of keyboard or paper and pencil, what of you tried doing it via speech,in an audience. Sans audience, I imagine, sans witness, it's like there is no speech at all. There would be you, but would that text exist except if you served it to auditors? An audience could be people listening, or a recording. A transcription isn't the same, is it? I've never heard David Antin's work performed tho I've read a bit of his work. I understand that Steve Benson does considerable improvising when he reads publicly. Speech seems to be chemical, reactive, whereas literature functions differently. I'm not sure how to describe the difference. So anyway, I shall addend a poem that you recently posted to Wryting, “Phoebus Wreathed”. I've been casually reading Robert Herrick. I mean really casually, while brushing my teeth or stray moment. In his work, and typical of how poetry was understood generally at that time and place, one sees a sense of formal occasion. These occasions can be eulogistic, delighting, or simply wisecracking epithets. I'm interested in how poesy can adjust to the impetus of these different moods. You often “use” what obviously is an anachronistic language, to great effect. This is poesy in arch glamour, yet that glamour is but an element of the poetic action. It feels like an intersection of occasions. Please speak of this poem.

Would there a wreath that would reprove fires: I hold this clime, Phoebus, as mine, announces its inscription. The worldly will allow, regarding this scene: Nature charms me as much as fable. The wreath announces of the fires: soft weigh my cares on this scale.

At a stroke the figure of Phoebus,
And the figure of Phoebus was with crackling torches.
Had they but dimmed to a maiden light!
They are the interior form of Aetna, certainly!

I have disported with other storms, announces Phoebus, I hate a lair, but I will be caverned in this wreath and walk beneath its boughs.