Saturday, December 04, 2004

I may stop R/ckets & S/ntries, feeling like I've played it out. I sure didn't expect to write a talk blog (this here one). I want to try something different, tho I dunno what. R&S began with the name, that's how Blogger does things. and having that name, those words, I set forth. 600 some poems with R and/or S in mind as I wrote. I meant it as an exercise.
"...if what we mean by Flow Chart is a non-narrative experimental epic-length poem that is somehow about the thinking of such a poem into being, hermetically sealed behind the forehead."--Ange Mlinko at Minor American. that last phrase is especially apt.
another blog by Jukka. a presentation of mail art, which is a nifty form of collaboration, tho sooth to say I've never done it. I missed mimeo too. there are a lot of people out there just cranking away, making art. it's an affirmative energy. you know, I am taken by the large selection of blank books and journals at Barnes & Noble. people presumably are filling those things. poetry, diary, notes on the search for the Holy Grail or the map to Pirate Eddie's pirate treasure. I use those things occasionally, especially travelling. with mail art, the sense of audience is very specific. which digs into some of Henry's (and my) sense of poetic directive. that the interchange of mail art lessens the desperation of publication, for iut becoems a sharing between friends (or at least likeminded). gifts more than competitions. even tho there is no market for poetry in the sense of money, there's this highly driven marketplace, of people trying to be seen and heard. the drive of that scene can bend people. so that a need to please arises. I suppose this is the decorum of which Jonathan Mayhew speaks. some of that is zeitgeist, the mode of our listening in the current noise. mail art is a giddy pleasure, you can see that in Jukka's site, in Ross Priddle's. a comfortable sharing. vispo (which mail art is a part), as I was saying re Geof Huth, is playful. the play is serious. a great visual adventure.

Friday, December 03, 2004

beguiling Sapphos by Stephen Vincent. Armand Schwermer was joking some in The Tablets, part of their charm, but the sense of what is left out also resonates. as here with the Sapphos. the tautness, mouth agape, partially worded. that may be why I like the half bracket SV uses. visually it's unusual, not just the uncompletion, but that it faces left, as if containing nothing, not even the possibility. yet there is an outside to that boundary, where the poem words itself.
Brian Kim Stefan givesn us Howl One Letter At A Time. literally! brought to mind the great bit by the great great Bob & Ray, The Slow Talkers of America. in which Ray impatiently interviews a dedicated member of this club. BKS's piece is rather transfixing. there's a click as each letter appears, at irregular intervals. and it goes on.
rather than wiggle in the comments box, I'm just too LARGE for that, I'll write here concerning H Gould Enterprises's fitness tests for poetry, which I guess I'll quote:

"1. failure to acknowledge the difficult technical challenges to good writing in general."

Whitman and the Beats gave some people the idea that poetry just was a matter of exultant overflow. sometimes that works but a lot of time, burbling logorrhea results. I did that for years, god help me. doesn't seem like Rimbaud did tho. there's some lack of detachment in this failure, as in: attachment to the assumptions listed below.

"2. failure to recognize the serious themes of great poetry : magnanimity, justice, vision (Dantean terms).

less sure about this point. there's a lot of highly localized poetry about Me and My Feelings out there, but there seems to be plenty of poets who recognize the listed themes as essential to their work.

"3. assumption that poetry is a means and not an end : a means to social conformity & worldly success."

I sure enough believe this. I believe there's a poetry fast track out there, and a lot of riders, hungry nervous eaters. crush list be damned. I see a lot of anxiety about publication, and not just publication but right kind of publication, ie, not self-published, not online, but 'Real Publication'. people sweatin' their reps. there aren't many Dickinsons out there.

"4. assumption that poetry is a means and not an end : a means toward expressing sour, narrow-minded resentments, rather than exploring paths toward the amelioration of conflict & suffering."

I think a lot of poets express sour narrow-minded resentments, but I don't think Poetry does. which, I know, sounds rather stupid to say. what I mean is: I don't see that stuff so much in the poetry itself. and frankly, good old Berryman was full of that too, so was Pope, Pound, Byronshelleykeats, etc. the crummy poetry we read has more to do with the 3 other tests, perhaps especially #3.
comfort from The Onion: "Remember: Insomnia is only a problem if you are employed or have a reason to live."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Nada Gordon's smart. she got to the phrase "Keep transvaluing those values, people" before I did, andf I'm not saying I'd ever get there. transvalue, wow, a life in a river. I don't know what Ron Silliman means by "Specificity is perhaps the simplest test of a good writer". does this simple test actually perform adequately? fog bunion. RS's poetry is specific, and it is a lovely thing for it, but I am not sure what the weight of his hauling means. there seems to be enough written in the world by Someone about Joan or Johnny Situation. my love is three green tales in the often remained morning. Nada's smarts are not overlay, I guess that is where she loses Ron. Ron writes with mayonaise over the hunk of toothsome meat.
this is really neat. a child does art because it is fun. the meaning doesn't even need the word meaning to intrude, the work is done and there it is. IS. I know Geof Huth is serious, but at bottom, he's damn well having fun. he takes what-if-I, and does something with it. I think vispo depends on that strength of action. look at Jukka's sites, or Ross Priddles collation. the big poetry cartels ought to start taking notice.
Steve Tills is onto something. Stephen Ellis is a wonderful writer. a poetry of terrific energy. Stephen writes almost in run on sentences, but not in some drizzling excess way, but with spiralling intensity. a concatenation of propositions that don't resolve until the poem's end. the resolution itself is process, I think. thoughts, instigations and ramifications twisitng together into a Fulleresque energy knot. Tills makes a point that younger poets can't write thusly, a point I would shy from. tempering in the crucible, if that is where tempering occurs, strengthens, and Stephen's work shows evidence of crucible. I would say that experience more than age performs that tempering, witness, say, Rimbaud, who gives a pretty good sense of his visits to Hell. and from the opposite side, Wordsworth became a mushy fuddy duddy in his old age. the more important point is how rich, intense and powerful Stephen's writing is. the book Steve Tills discusses is unlikely to be available. I mean if you wrote to Stephen, he would send you a copy, but I don't know if the address there in Chauncey Ohio is current. Stephen's work is available at Alterran link to the right, and he has a book published by Spuyten Duvvel. recommended!.
in answering Laura Carter's plea about lineation I surprised myself in boldness and presumption. sure that we all have our ways and aims, and my prosiness won't necessarily serve another poet's needs. it is good to see such a question raised tho. one sees enough poetry the lines of which are just the product of wider margins (ie everything in Poetry Chicago). I have wondered why James Merrill bothered with the trick of metre in his ouija board poem, for the import of that work did not seem to be in how he managed metre. I got sick of his slickness, would have preferred prose looping the story out than his precise cleverness within a dull form. Amy Clampitt is my favourite bad poet for she writes a stultifying prose but soups it up by making it look like poetry. in truth her poetry consists of run on sentences and every punctuation mark she could find. the lines are convention, like capitalizing the 1st line. back in my typewriter days I used to send adding machine tape thru the machine. you know, like Kerouac, but he had wider paper. I got 2 or 3 words per line. sometimes forcing the issue that way helps rearrange your thinking. voicing the work helps too. you can do such things as counting syllables or words per line, why not. one wants to feel the poet thunk about the matter, that received wisdom didn't steal the day.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tim Peterson hits a good one. I think I'm a philistine, being lax or slighting. I feel really "specific-to-a-life but inarticulate". and that it is my 'courage' as a writer that I can live (write) with that. beyond that, this piece/post by Tim lives in a tension of divergence and change that I admire. where the wrong word is right becaue of its right to be wrong. it's work, so far as I know, to write that way. I do sometimes, but don't know how to stay in that. to stay, ahhh, on message. well I am reminded to reread Tim's ebook (advert Faux/e Books)(and the others, it's a nice slew of recently released). this blog, may I remind you thousands of readers, is a work of process.
Laura Carter seeks lineation expert. HEY!!! I can HELP! it's called forget about it: it is called prose. it is called prose until you hear it. it's called prose upon the full page. it's called tension carefully distributed in time. lines are part of the visual time that you hear. Dickinson carefully dropping a beat from the hymnal rhythm, and Creeley so relentless in the fete of pulse. I'm serious here. the craft is hearing, which sure was a slow process for me. altho Creeley's evidence always seemed a bright good clue. it was a slow great breakthru when I realized that I could just write prose and aim for writing well, and see how that makes a music. I practiced at that, even (or especially so) when I was writing wine descriptions for the wine store I worked at, public writing of that kind, and strove to tighten and function in the world of that. I don't think enough is said about just 'writing well'. just letting the music find itself. Olson reminded us that there's a right hand margin too, not simply in the sense of Whitman's surge but something of music too. wish yourself Elvin Jones or other drummer (rock drummer Dave Mattacks too) for some constructive DElineation of space. remember lines are visual as well as heard (herd?). practice. look at me giving advice, hahaha! but wait, how would Jordan Davis answer????? the stern post goes into the nexus channel, yes yes yes, and Kenneth Koch died on sunday.
another David Hess moment. "false is the idiom of sincerity", that's a good one. I consider my poetry political in a half-assed way. I am not as astute, let us say, as Kevin Magee. yet I can work in that. and look, the sincerity of my saying how half-assed I am also suggests that I am fully assed in these matters. false sure is the idiom of sincerity. into my ardent maturity I seem to be more oblique in my constitution of political. poetry doesn't need opinion, gets clogged with it, and yet, I do need opinions. as a writer, I need to plunk my feet somewhere, but poetry isn't guided that way. there's a part of me that 'cares', and there's a part that 'cares about caring'. it's a tricky negotiation of impulses, yet poetry is here and there thru all. probably more poetry is ruined by sincerity than insincerity. isn't flarf the poetry of insincerity or have I misread? Ed Dorn in fact was talking this matter of sincerity, regarding anti-war poetry, in one of the interviews I just read. some while ago David Kirschenbaum put forth a series of poems, perhaps on his blog, that were cards he wrote to his mother while she was ill. certainly there is love in this, but I found the idea disagreeable. you know, making hay with this emotional opportunity. when my mother was dying, sometime in her last week, I told myself I would not write a poem to her. I would not use the occasion. probably 12 hours after her death, I was writing that poem I forbid myself. at least I kept it to myself. I thought David's poems were flat, too dependent on that sincere element. sure there's a power to a parent's illness (Stephen Vincent just put up some Walking Theories to/with/about his mother that are lovely and touching), or the ghastly politics of war. I guess the writer must recognize the nature of her/his own sincerity, needs to be that alert. poetry doesn't need to be propaganda. one's sincerity pushes one towards propaganda.
all righty then. with the help of blogger's whimnsical sense of humour I managed to post the same thing 3 times, a personal record. cause for celebration!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

back from the Jersey Shore. productively lazy the past week, tho I'm pretty tired now. read and wrote and made numerous walks on the beach. read Flow Chart by the Big A (Ashbery). the 1st lines, about the published city, made me want to jump for joy. it made me think of Crane at his best and St-John Perse (who I've read in French, tho not for years). we slip thru that big city there on rt 95 to get to Jersey. formerly we opted to avoid all that city stuff on our visits by slicing across NY to the corner of PA then cutting back thru NJ. a lovely farmland tour but quite long. well the reason for that route choice was traffic concerns, and sure we had a slow go in getting to and over the GW Bridge. and my point, as I ramble, is how lovely the city is. and so essential, like it or not. I found Flow Chart quite compelling for a while, then it seemed a little pointless. or not so much that but that it lacked tension. something to unify the memorable sentences. because I hear JA as a voice, a voice, in fact, I recognize in my own writing. I don't mean as influence (that's another matter) but a sense of place amidst shifting and loss. I'm just writin' when I write, but I note (afterwards) the address of my work, the tendency towards we, and see JA at that same um problem. I guess I caught the flow part of the poem, but not the chart. I felt a lack of handholds. I don't know how to love the whole poem, but some moments of it are thrilling. I also read (usefully) Hegel and Lenin, and produced 30 some poems circling around those (including JA) nodes. well bully for me! in fact I like the poems quite a bit. I also read Basil Bunting, which is still difficult for me. like ith Pound, I have to step over all sorts of allusions and references that are outside my ken. which means the work is cut out for me. I also read interviews with Ed Dorn. keeping up with poets is hard work, hard finding their works and hard affording it. I have nothing of Dorn's more recent than late 70s, I guess, which hardly represents. but I like him, whatever his errors. Gunslinger is a 1st class hunk of something. I 1st met it in Grenier's class, tho not more than a mention I'm guessing. me, I'm okay with narrative. feels like a terrible thing to admit in this new day but there we are. Mr Silliman reminds us that Grenier does not deny his debt to Lowell. I guess it is okay to go our merrie ways.