Saturday, September 05, 2009


AHB: You say that the word porphyry came to you unbidden. With procedural work, there is the sense of the writing event, that you prepare for it. Maybe you are not even ready with pen or keyboard close by, but you think of ways to proceed. Is there an anticipation of the imminent poem as you ponder these writing structures? I ask because when I write, I begin, often, with a phrase, the poem’s first words. No more than that, elsewise I wear out the possibilities even before I actually write. Or, barring that starting point, I begin with just an inclination to write. Mayhap I err in thinking these approaches differ in some useful to decipher way.

This leads me to “Hold my Hand All the Way”, which is in fact an occasional poem. I attended a memorial service, and wrote the words before the service began, within that feeling and necessity (the title is from a song used in the service). It is, then, the surprise of what would surface then. Your procedures are play, in the serious sense of that word.

“Dunderhead Heaving” is just a bunch of phrases that were in my head. The phrase Stream of Consciousness is wielded frequently and awkwardly, implying automatic writing, or some ignorant stance towards the creative act. I think Joyce meant the continual voices and articulations one hears in one’s mind when one bothers to notice. Meditation practices focus exactly on these voices, in an effort to substantiate who we really are. Tom Raworth and Clark Coolidge are writers who have explored or exploited that stream. Sometimes when I am patently not writing, I mull phrases such as in this poem. The specific case of this poem, I began with real names (of those who could interview me) (not me, actually, I was ‘inspired’ by Nada Gordon writing that she would like to be interviewed), then the names became these noun phrases.

So now you may comment on the unusual piece that you posted to Wryting-L:


SIGNUM: See that figure there, across the water? In profile? Seated. The reader. That's The Translator.
ONYMA: Translator of what language?
SIGNUM: You have to ask? You haven't heard of The Translator?
ONYMA: Not this one. Is there a story?
SIGNUM: This translator, whether by decision or cause, I don't know, neither speaks nor writes any living language.
ONYMA: Dead languages, then?
SIGNUM: Only one. English. It could even be said that The Translator hears only in English, since words are translated immediately, or with near-immediacy, into English as soon as they are spoken. The Translator has said this, and also says this of written words.
ONYMA: Impossible.
SIGNUM: Honestly, I heard it from none other than Talu.
ONYMA: Then perhaps The Translator is untruthful.
SIGNUM: If not truthful, The Translator is guilelessly misstating or willfully misrepresenting. It could be a matter of miscommunication, since someone who knows English is the rarest of rarities.
ONYMA: I know a few words.
SIGNUM: Veracity aside, as a premise The Translator's condition is thought-provoking. For instance, would The Translator hear an untranslatable word as silence?
ONYMA: Hear as silence, or translate as silence?
SIGNUM: Would an untranslatable word be replaced from a store of deliberately falsely-translated words?
ONYMA: The notion of a store of deliberately falsely-designative words could serve as a definition of language.
SIGNUM: Or a history of language. Does The Translator incorporate untranslatable words, or any kind of foreign word, into English? How true is The Translator to the spirit of English?
ONYMA: English! What if I were to cry the word "poesy"?
ONYMA: Poesy! Unyielding impassivity -- surely, hearing an English word is worth something.
SIGNUM: The Translator is out of earshot, I believe. "Poesy"? Isn't the word "poetry"?
ONYMA: I understood it to be "poesy". "Poetry" must be a porphyrogene youth of yet another epoch.
SIGNUM: Within a dead language, what of anachronism, and what of archaism? Does The Translator change our native language, say, into Chaucerian English? Is what The Translator hears -- or, a comprehensive, converting Echo, instantly repeats -- a melange of English epochs?
ONYMA: Different epochs for different days! Different hours! Months! Years!
SIGNUM: Is it, as with the possibility of incorporating untranslatable and other foreign words into English, a matter of context and consistency?
ONYMA: Does The Translator know all living languages, not an impossible task, and hears English with every word?
SIGNUM: Like I said, food for thought. Let's move on.

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Colloquy indeed. This piece is more directed than much of your work. You had a purpose…