Saturday, October 30, 2004
Henry Gould is not holding back, and there's no reason that he should. neglect is hard to measure however. Alan Sondheim and his oceans of posts quite often sounds a similar note, yet defenders come out of the walls when the knucklehead faction decry Sondheim's prolific redoubt. no, Sondheim isn't convincing in that way. tho sooth to say, I actually started blocking his emails, not out of spite but just feeling oppressed by his many posts (which I get doubled for my sharing 2 lists with him (has been as many as 4!!!)). Henry has a much stronger basis for his complaint, but I am sure there are writers out there (not on the internet, say) who could consider Henry a brand name in comparison. Henry's experiments go quite widdershins to the provoking national average and surely has been dismissed to whatever extent just on that major failing. I have no intention of talking Henry down from his limb. he is committed more fully than a lot of poets, and yes I realize the other meaning that committed can supply. Henry's larger point centres on how we read. how much cultural signs work for us. how many chummy discurive poets exist as working icons because Readership sees their work and says ah NY School. or chunky non-narrative stuff that is LANGUAGE poetry. Henry's not doing either of those things. Readership probably prefers the well worn path. I should quote some lines from the ballad Thomas the Rhymer. well, I can't quote offhand, but the Queen of Elfland says to Thomas something like, see that wide straight path? that's the road to hell, tho some call it heaven. and see that windy path all thick with thorns? that's the path to heaven. oh then there's the 3rd choice, consisting of bonnie hills and fernie braes, the path to fair Elfland. I think Readership chooses that easy path most often, and the thorny one 2nd (cursèd academic reading), but perhaps it's the Xanadu-like 3rd path that is the poet's one. I won't make any claims about Henry's writing in a big sense, and have a fairly deaf ear to any writers self claims, but will say he's doing something rare. I think Readership sees his stuff and thinks he should publish in Poetry magazine, which is just letting superficials ruin the reading. I do not think Henry is going away. how we negotiate the choosy little audience is the question for us all. I largely chose to neglect the audience, for years and years I did so, being put off by the industry involved. it all finally works out, I guess, and we get the market share we get. but market share does not equal quality of the work. and so on, blah blah Allen, time for breakfast.