Saturday, December 11, 2004

Jackson Mac Low's statement, quoted at Watten's Weekly, brings to mind what Phish do (did) in concert. the group will give a clue, such as plays a few notes of a tune, or gesture in some way, which those in the know recognize as a signal. they then do whatever act like whoop or turn around that the signal signifies. one must be among the cognoscenti but the Phish community is about sharing that. a situation is created. as with JML, I see the sitch loaded with political meaning.
J Mayhew and T Peterson on being a poet. took me maybe 2 years before I would admit to myself that I was a writer, that I wasn't just kidding myself. quite some while after that that I would offer that as what I did. especially with the assumption that the act aint real if you haven't published. the ugh question if ever one's being a writer leaks out: what sort of stuff do you write? the stuff that a person could read, I guess. to say poetry brings that loaded, self-indulgent image. my friends and I did a little publication in high school, and in doing so met a fellow who, as he declared, wrote at 3 o'clock. my friend credited this person's poems to Three O'Clock Brown. I rarely use the term poet on myself. it's more like an honorific, and a limitation. I write other than poetry. OR I am being profligate with the definition of poetry. whatever. my 1st publication was in This 3 in 1972, with Grenier, Creeley, Coolidge and, by gawd, the pre-comment box Curtis Faville!!!. my 2nd publication was in a broadside put out by Stephen Ellis's Oasis Press in 1999. he has published an enormous number of writers this way. he asked for 6 poems, printed 50 copies, kept one for archive purposes, and the rest were for me to distribute. of course I still have some. it is a tickle to publish in print, congrats to the Mayhews. it's evidence that you weren't joking when you said you were a writer. I think publishing online is still considered circumstantial evidence somehow. my grief with online simply sits with my inability to read off the screen for long. and I won't even tell you about the last time I read online work in the bathtub...

Friday, December 10, 2004

...Robert Bly, surely one of the worst minds of his generation. it is surprising how fair this assessment is. were Bly just incompetent, like, say, Amy Clampitt, you'd just pass him by. but he's this big ass voice, thundering with dull. my Spanish isn't really mine but even I can tell that Bly's just scuffing up some good poets with his translations. I suppose we can credit him with some sort of 3rd or 4th rate openness to other cultures, in the manner of Rothenberg and Eschleman, but no, I'd rather not. and then that job of giving men their penises back, yikes. I guess even he was against the Vietnam War but his anti and Ginsberg's don't belong in the same room. reading his poetry really discouraged me, when I was much more insecure about myself as a writer. I thought: I can't write like that. thank gawd.
John Latta's rumination upon youth and age in poesy world rings well. Jim Behrle's satires of Ron Silliman's multiplex reading speak to the point that keeping up with all that is going on is a huge task. I never felt anxious about keeping up but for a long time read up as well as I could. now I keep my eye out on the poetry scene, but I'm reading elsewise as well. one does what one can and one does what one needs. someone recently quoted Gilbert Sorrentino, somthing like: if you write poetry when you're 20, it's because you are 20; if you write poetry when you are 40, it's because you are a poet. I remember writers in high school and college who I knew were not going to be writers in their 40s. no need for smugness, but I persisted. anyway, I have said it before, but Latta sure reminds me of Edward Dahlberg, with his florid, cranky (and entertaining) style. Dahlberg wrote with a biblical lushness that belies his clarity. a nice pairing is Dahlberg and D H Lawrence re American lit.
fascinating, as I said before. those who haven't used a typewriter are missing out. I no longer have one, but the idea of using that (Weiner's) page is intriguing. I am not arguing against the convenience, as well as awesome potential, of the computer, and work done by hand, of course, has it own native energy. Weiner paints the page with words, and uses the red ribbon somewhat. I never saw the book version of The Clairvoyant Journal, but if it doesn't replicate the colour, then it misses something. I know that Little Books/Indians doesn't quite translate the sense of interference and disturbance with its typography. I mean it is rigid and lacks colour. some of John Bennett's work has a 3-dimensional quality. Rolling Combers (Potes & Poets Press 2001) subtly utilizes different fonts, plus John's lurid (and lovely) calligraphy, to create layers (hard to explain). Weiner's work similarly has layers. typesetting such work lessens the effects of these layers, at least for Weiner. these scans produce a much better sense of what Weiner was 'doing'. Bennett was working with the computer all along, there's no translation of his intent (well, less). see, for so long, writers worked one way, then saw their work changed when published. I don't know if Finnegans Wake should be read in its crayon version, as composed by Joyce, but I think it's worth considering how much translation of our work we need to do. I can't recall the name, or find, Grenier's boxed book, in which he shifts from typescript to handwrit. that's his recognition of the problem.
he's back and he's proud: there's a reason I kept C Annarummo's Arm Sasser link up. mimimalist isn't the right word, but trim and succinct work. none of which applies to my writing.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

an interesting Hannah Weiner link. Patrick Durgin has written what looks to be (I've only scanned it) a good introduction to Weiner's work, and several of her works are included, in original typescipts. fascinating. Jack Kimball wrote a good piece on Weiner and Alan Sondheim a couple years ago for Jacket. I must make a permanent link, for this is worth study.
Jackson Mac Low's death is a surprise as the pictures of him show such a trim person. I haven't read him well but have always identified him as an honourable presence in poetry. I admire that his experiments are engagement. I mean, his writing is 'difficult' if you are unready for it(which is a constant theme for me, I am much more disconceeted by the 'new' than I or anyone ought to be), but his writing bears such a strict intention to engage that it is hard to pass it by. I love his performance directions and explanations of method: so precise in a loving way. I don't know why the word loving occurs to me but it seems a most appropriate word for his work.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

not exactly looking to crowd my list with more blogs, but I like Mike Snider's busy blog. thoughtful people comment on his blog, which is a plus, gives a nice percolation. the Ashbery questions he dished out sure roiled up the stew. I actually don't get why The New Yorker, in its dull wisdom, saves half a column for Ashbery once in a while, tho that is just part of the question why the magazine uses any poetry for column filler, when it already has those funny whatsis items to serve the purpose. my first meeting of Ashbery was Tennis Court Oath, the simple disjunctions of which threw me for a loop. I didn't know poetry could do that. Three Poems came out soon after, which I found difficult as well but more to my taste. a little before that, I think, Richard Grossinger read at Franconia. his prose really excited me. I mean, that he was writing prose, but not so much telling a story or explaining things. this was a breakthru for me. so the length and depth of Three Poems seems wonderful in possibility. I always thought the voice in Ashbery inherently lonely, but maybe that's a bit of too close to home. I had dinner with him and a couple of other students at Grenier's when Ashbery read at the school, as I am sure I've boringly recounted, and found him pleasant and sociable. he was pleased that I and another were Leos, like him, and related this to the (supposed) Cancer birth of O'Hara (which we learn in his bio was in fact 3 months earlier). christ that's the coolest story I have in my arsenal, I canna do better. I guess I ought to get intersting or don't bother. anyway, nothing wrong with Snider wondering about the appeal of JA.

Silliman Update

today, December 7, Ron Silliman called us darlings. unless he's just talking to Curtis Faville, it means he LOVES us!!! he really loves us!!!
nice long review of David Shapiro/Peter Gizzi reading by Analagous Reading impressario, Tim Peterson. you will find a link to Jack Kimball's erudite (remember to pronounce all 4 syllables) review there as well, save me from performing excessive linkage in the fairly wee hours. wish I was there. I'm pleased to see reviews of readings beyond who was in the audience.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mike Snider's questions here are usefully provocative but. I would answer no to all questions, however I am not interested in memorizing. I don't ask that poetry be with me like that (whereas it seems I do with music). and yet I have my love for poetry, however tainted it may be (poetry and/or my love for it). having Ashbery's lines in my head, or anyone's lines in my head, including my own lines, is not a use I ask of poetry. these questions assume that people read Ashbery without enjoyment. why assume that? if MS didn't assume that Ashbery's readers were stupid, could he come up with answers to these questions? that would be a useful exercise. we all have our criteria, really, we do. and I am not even denying that Ashbery's work tends to blur for me. Flow Chart, as I wrote earlier, dragged on for me. still, I can list Ashbery poems I like, and articulate why. and for his part in A Nest of Ninnies, kudos galore.
well, I'm going to be self-referential here, so you might wish to take precautions. because I am looking at the stuff on R/ckets & S/ntries, making me think. the Poetics list bubbles currently upon a query for serial poems. I think the correspondent sought long-in-the-making grand d'oeuvres like Cantos or Maximus, and people pulled out everything they could think of, sorta like. I think a serial poem might depend on chronology. someone cited Spicer's definition, but I don't know that. I like the effects of chronology, t any rate. much of my work leans on that. altho the recent series I did in NJ I intentionally took ome out of order. anyway, boring you (1st I imagine a reader, then imagine I bore him/her), looking at the chrono field of R&S. gives a graph of my experiences, I guess. for the most part not specified but still. a patch of poems that came after Beth and I went to WV to deal with her father's death, I wrote quite a lot. the facts of my life aren't interesting per se, we all have facts. but it is the conjunctive tension between them facts (which could be as mild as what I was reading) and my writing that is compelling. my writing, anyone's writing, coming out of that. sometimes I am 'heartfelt', sometimes ironic, sometimes oblique, sometimes flaky: different ways to deal with the facts. because it seems like facts instigate the writing. sometimes declarative, as in dealing with Beth's father's death. more often it is less definable, some adventure of language. I am not speaking of this particular to me. we write towards something definitive, not as in answers but something solid or complete or I dunno what. something. R&S was practice. I would get antsy to make at least one daily post, even if I didn't feel I had something to 'say'. I definitely believe in the practice of writing, with a novelist's kind of daily grind. not that I really work like that, I just like to see work done everyday, not waiting for those effusive, concentrated times. I haven't really looked at R&S (my gawd the typos and misspellings!!!), but I wouldn't want to cut it down. the weak poems have a point. I don't mean the reader must exult in that, I'm talking process still. I wrote this stuff casually, throwing it away really. I didn't review them much, was content to let them sail away. now I am pulling them back to shore. I wrote them, all right, but didn't invest in them in that way of writerly dedication, just wanted to get some work done.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

"The Golden Rue Devils Bring" by Jeff Harrison

I gargantuan, they in the skies
yet lower they to the ground
with gold the moonless were golden, --
me: blooded for thee a sight to enjoy,
thee, Virginia, moonless thee

if ape thinks of a palace, behold,--
at the very-most least an aviary
for letters' newborn steeds!

I, more, I inched all drenched
blooded for thee a sight to enjoy
but glumly she bird then just die

* * * * *

I don't really know why I asked Jeff if I could post this one particularly, because so many of his poems interest me, and for that matter, quite a number of pieces by others on Wryting could be picked out. I like the language here, grand and slightly ludicrous. I divine that Jeff bears an interest in English poetry 17th to 19th century. I like the tension of the lines, with their defiantly firm yet skewed syntax, and implosive beat. I hear it declaimed slowly, portenously, I suppose. and Virginia, which he frequently mentions in his poems: a person, a place, a state of mind?
I've been reading Christophe Tarkos, who died recently. Roof released a selected of his work in 2000. he was only 40. his 1st book appeared in 1995. at the time of publication of this volume, he'd published 25 books. obviously the selection barely scratches the surface of that output. one might note a resemblance to the work of Alan Sondheim. really wound up, intense production. challenging and experimental. there's a solid intro by Chet Wiener, who is also one of the many translators involved, which include Stacy Doris and Norma Cole. great energy. Charles Bernstein wrote to the Poetics list: "Our poetry has suffered a blow. But Tarkos's work already shows a means for recovery." I dunno why people say things like that. obviously Tarkos gave us a ton of stuff, so that 1st sentence sounds overblown. and that's assuming Americans (if that is the 'we' he means) are that interested in what the French are doing. we should be, of course, but I don't think we are. I find Tarkos's work worthy of study, but the 2nd sentence sounds overblown too. I really hate eulogies.
I'm saving R/ckets & S/ntries to my hard drive. that means copy the archives and, maybe this is anal, reverse the chronological order, so that earliest post is 1st not last. Blogger should allow the choice. I like the project of R&S. it gave me a daily push. blogs are process. they depend on fairly regular postings. there's 600 pieces on R&S, but I get the feeling that once I stop adding to it (which I guess I have) it will lose relevance. same for this blog, for any blog. I'll probably deep six R&S once I've gutted it. I mean to start something else but I don't know what. how about a fuckin' crush list, something smarmy like that?