Friday, May 16, 2014


JH:  A poem can make much of a word that would not be large on its own, and a word can enlarge a poem. In the latter case, this enlargement is often temporary, historical. Grand themes do not necessarily make for grand poems. How grand a poem is when all the words tower! Rhythm is getting all the words to stack up.
As a reader, I want every poem that a poet has written, along with drafts. As a poet, I want only what works well within a totality. Just as a poem is a totality (and I would not want my drafts appended to a finished poem of mine), a book is a totality, and I would not want a book of mine to have poems that would be appended to that totality. There are 16 Actaeon poems in this ideal totality, but I could add poems that I have yet to write, as I don't think that the poems I've selected move toward a point where the 16th poem must be read as the final poem.

AHB: Emily Dickinson kind of did want her drafts appended to the finished poem. Or, speaking of her fascicles, she allowed for alternate word choice. I see drafts as separate poems. Myself, I don't really have drafts. With the computer, I make changes, and the previous is gone. Word processors allow for the retaining of drafts but I do not bother.

When I worked on typewriter, I used to number drafts. And I would retype for the merest change, even the correction of 'h' before 't' in 'the' . In Three Poems, Ashbery ponders putting everything in, or not. You can make a case, either way. As the writing goes, do you at all strive towards the published article? The Internet allows for things to get out there, but the Internet is a field of niches and a squandering of scope. What I mean is, do you plan for an Actaeon for the ages?


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