a mere plea to Alli Warren got me her chapbook, Hounds. you could do likewise, with felicitous reward. the book is, I infer, a homemade production. shouldn't poets go vertical, production-wise? isn't that reasonable? like, should a painter ask someone to put the paint on the canvas? well, I applaud that she has put this book together, presumably paid the printer, presumably stitched the pages. and it looks like medical adhesive tape to seal the envelope! go ahead, poets, command the means of production! beyond that, Kasey's right, Jordan's right, Ron's right: she's a terrific poet. Beth took it from my hand before I had hardly read a word and said wow. the very 1st lines:
"As the doors parted
toward the shore
"both oceans vied
for my heart and the Pacific
the concentration of emotional sensation startles me in her writing. I don't know how she boils it down so well, pleonasm is my own weakness, but still. the results are not, natheless, austere. does she write quickly, or does she sculpt and craft? I have been collaborating with Jeff Harrison for 3+ years, and have learned from him. I think I have gained a trust in telescoping conjunctions of words. I have this burden of wanting to make sense. to offset that quixotic ridiculousness, I jump syntax and disjunct the easy plan. I mean, I could teach as well as learn. and I identify an effort in her work that resonates with my own design. Alli Warren has an ability similar to Jeff's, to put strong words together. she works in a slight oddity that seems fresh and giving. I don't know her procedures but I suppose she flarfs: she gathers, listens, trusts. the writing is keen, situated, fresh. I want my adjectives to have heart here, because this is poetry that deserves commendation for its serious intent amidst the flow and fluff of Poetry World. because we're all beset by ambition, neurotic expectation, glamour and plain shit. I don't want to talk about author photos. to write here is an exercise for me. I don't want to praise, I want to point to the real things I find on the road. and I get from Alli's poetry that she is learning. that's the big whammer jammer for me.
Friday, July 01, 2005
the Boston Globe today has a brutal article concerning autism. it concerns the use of Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, in children's vaccines. in the 4th paragraph: "autism rates began rising dramatically in children who were administered the new vaccine regimes." quite a rise: from 1/2500 ten years ago to 1/166 now, 1/80 for boys. what sort of percentage officially constitutes an epidemic, do you think? Erin suffered grand mal seizures after receiving the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine. turning a bright lively child into a distant one. the medical industry refused to accept cause and effect (look again at those statistics!), which sent Beth to alternative therapies, including physical therapy and holistic medicine. all to rewire Erin's brain connections. Erin didn't start speaking till he was seven (but has made up for that silence quite nicely). he now shows some, not all, of the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, which is a high-function form of autism. it was a long road for Beth and Erin, especially the physical therapy, which used repetitive exercises to reconnect basic brain functions. Erin is a lucky one, for he got help and nurture, and wasn't just fed ritalin or whatever. he's extremely intelligent, kind, creative and empathetic. as far as I'm concerned, he's 'normal' (just like me!!!), but at the price of much suffering on his part, and on Beth's. the terrible part of this is how hard it has been for Beth to state her case. blanket denials from everyone in the traditional medical industry. this story sounds like thalidomide redux. the company I worked for a long time changed ownership. the new president once, in talking to me, several times encouraged the concept of CYA: cover your ass. an absolutely outrageous thing for a company executive to promote. and it is just the thing with all those busted headline CEOs passing blame off. and this same shit tendency rife in our government as well. cover your fuckin' ass. until such point as these doctors start seeing autism in their own children.
the sighing of a failed flarist (meaning moi). I love serendipity, which is part of what informs flarf. that is, flarf depends on the finding. that discovery however is not as if a pure thing. flarfing writers use these benign oddities. the pure finding would be recording, which has its own beauty. funny, re flarf, I just flashed on Keats poking at Wordsworth. as a reader, when I start becoming conscious of the trick, or even that a trick is involved, I lose faith. that's my grind against Whitman. that this encomnpassing spirit that he felt becomes at times (sorry for screwy tenses, hard to talk about a timeless dead poet in sensible verb tenses) a shtick or at least a literary device. it's not fair to question his sincerity more than mine. the point is that we all as writers fall for devices. ways to return to the well, that well of opening and bright and intensely sudden. that is where Graves's White Goddess is so illuminating. the artist enjoys a natural high, but cannot sustain it. we're bound to deliver, say, 3 good poems in our lifetime, but what do we do the rest of the time? well, that time is process. it is exploration and experimentation and integration. it's also, to go Hollywood, booze and drugs (Sal Mineo copping a joint and instantly lost in the swelter of addiction), or just doing something completely different. I think flarf is a means of release. it allows the commanding worrier to be pushed aside, so that radiant voices may sound. which is a pretty yucky way of putting it. flarf is a process, but shouldn't be a stuck. Kasey acknowledges this in his interview with Tom Beckett, in noting that at some point the googling should stop. Dickinson produced a measured pile of poems, neatly counted by Harvard's corporate accountants. yet there she is fussing with her fascicles (which is perhps the dirtiest thing I will write today). not only that, she's intimating hypertext by incorporating alternative word choices into those fascicles. tell me that aint hip! I guess (and guess and guess) that I have yet to perceive exactly the larger project of Kasey and Charles (mes amis). which is not exactly their problem, is it? I say nothing against their commitment as artists, and only a fool would think that what I write here pierces anyone but myself. the sense of project is a varied thing, by my lights. Cantos and Maximus and A are obvious life projects. or Jordan Davis's 1,000,000 poem imperative. but you see it in Niedecker too, how she chipped away these darling gems from the grey starkness, intrepid dedication against a sullen backdrop. my distraction resides in knowing that C and K teach. well that's no crime. I'd love to've had the pleasure of their courses. the fear is the repetitive nature of teaching. taking the next class thru the marches. and that repetition (even tho, I know, each class taught is different by way of the different people attending, yet the curriculated structure...) could enter the process. but wait, aren't I considering flarf here? what's my damage? flarf is merely a procedure, to be used with lesser or greater facility. I think it can be a box. C and K do great service in poetry, world. I know that. I just feel a little dissatisfied, believing there is 'more to come'. well, this is my grand poetic statement, which about 5 people will read, and that's part of the problem too.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
another great interview by Tom Beckett tho you don't need me to tell you. Tom's interviews are intelligent, intellectual, crisp and not rushed. Kasey brings a great, comprehensive critical voice in these days. I don't know how the flarfists get such results as they do, I mean their Google searches seem much richer than mine. the pop side of flarf wears on me, I find. we get pop culture up the wazoo like it or not as it is. giving today's buzz of interest the privilege of serious encounter produces a sameness, at least to my ear. Alan Sondheim, in a Wryting's post, astutely likens the grand dialogues in Boswell's Johnson (oops, there's a 2nd entendre for all to see, aint there?) to the email chatter on listservs. the Google well is full of just that chatter. and it is important that we acknowledge that chatter. see it as chatter. the edge dipping into that chatter seems a little worn at this point. I guess I have a need to see a project. I feel the intensity of Kasey's craftsmanship, his careful ear for the sound and furry (haha), but also somehow sense him being boxed in. I feel similarly about Charles Bernstein. I wonder if it isn't the academic climate. it's not like either is turning into Harold Bloom. but they both seem to remain in the precincts of the academic churn, which is to say, the sea warms, algae rises, the cycle begins again. I sound like I'm flunking Kasey, having written similar downers here previously. the possibilities are that I'm on to something or missing the boat completely. I recall no negative words written about Kasey, which is a wonder. I don't want to dislike Kasey's poetry (and I don't, just wary that it might be flashing), certainly his work brings carloads of energy and humour. I just don't get enough aliment from his work, whether it's for lack of digestive enzymes on my part, or a nutritional lack on his. when he's on with his blog, he's a great lesson of beaming. but, as I have noted before, he can also be smarmy. there. I know this is all what the fuck. I'm not taking potshots, and even if I were, who would care? I'm just posting up in the paint, trying to figure out the patterns that the people around me are running.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Beth's mother gave us a hot air popcorn popper that she had. I admit the concept of such escaped me, when they 1st came on the market. I likes my popcorn well enough, tho any pop in a storm. I mean, I'll take the stuff the cinemas serve, guaranteed fresh once, slathered in that oily stuff. I've never done corn popped on the cob, nor in those campfire grates. use to have an electric popper, modestly ancient, which was fun to overfill with popcorn seeds. microwave is merely handy, lacks the full popcorn experience. a wok does a surprising job. the oil gets hot quick, and the popcorn pops almost immediately. this hot air marvel made good workmanlike noise. there's a cap at the top by which you can measure the seed AND in which melt butter during the popping process. let the evolutionists enjoy that felicity of style! once the popcorn started popping (somewhat slow, if you ask me), I felt an exuberent rush. I ran to get my camera. well, I didn't get great pictures. aiming up the delivery chute was chancy, as the chute was exhausting hot air with the popcorn. I just couldn't capture the energy of the exploded seeds. the popcorn seemed pretty decent, tho perhaps a trifle rubbery.
this picture struck me. reminded me of any number of 'modern' paintings, I can't isolate an artist name for you. you know, scraping down to simplicities. except it is a picture, not a painting. and I understand the surface is just as flat as a painting, yet I know them holes are holes, even if a photographic simulacrum. Jordan with camera saw them, I am trusting that fact. this picture kinda twirls that 2 dimensional imperative that was stirred up in past intellectual times. generally speaking, Jordan's pictures are attractive in what I'd say is a non-verbal way. he's just being deft to post just one a day, I'm doing my best not to post 17 in an hour. in context of his blog, at which he sometimes doesn't seem to move his lips, his often spare, ordinary pictures are perfect counterweights. that they are largely city pics is attracta me. I've only stopped in NYC once, and that was pre-digital, ortherwise it's just been 95 at whatever pace it chooses to offer. 70 years ago Berenice Abbott was transcribing radiant human energy in those godlovely photos she took, the city still growing. it's a different world for JD, and a different process (no more does one expect or need the subject to pose), but I'd be bold enough to suggest he follows a similar line as Abbott. I likemy own photos, by the way. the miracle is that I haven't posted them ALL.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I've had to learn the simplest things last, said Olson. I think, everything has been a slow grind for me. I didn't marry until I was 48. which brought a child that was now 'mine': a dad. I graduated from college at 52. I am right now learning to drive. not driving is a different perspective. try to imagine. I used to run to work, 10 miles each way. not always the full distance, but always the effort. one time a goodly snow storm. I shovelled out at home. I ran to work. I helped shovel at work. one of my co-workers arrived late and said, what a hard ride in!!! so now I've done a few laps at the schoolyard prior to today. today, I negotiated some side streets. topping out in 1st gear at 10 mph. slower, that is, than my running pace in my prime. but learning. we live in so many assumptions. poetry, for me, is not an assumption. it's more geologic, an accumulation. writing was important from that day when I started 'doing' it. poetry slowly evolved as the thing in which. I know for some of you, poetry is a love. difficult to write, yes, difficult to read sometimes, but it's a ready love. it isn't for me and never has been. it is difficult for me the way learning to drive at 52 is difficult. I don't mean to equate poetry with functionality. I'm looking at the act or action of writing poetry, and how it beckons yet (somehow) doesn't invite. I really like Henry Gould's seriousness about poetry. I think poetry is worthy of dedication, of just the sort Henry evinces, against the stream and all. its implicit vitality can inform one's depth perception and consideration. yes? yes! very yes!!! do you remember learning to drive? I'm cruising along at 10 mph consciously avoiding that girl, that dog, that parked car. it is utter consciousness, to the point of utter confusion. to write is to enter that very consciousness, and eschew that very confusion. eventually, 2nd nature will kick in as a driver. oddly, there's a 2nd nature in writing that is absolutely false. that is the crappiest stuff that Whitman or Ginsberg ever wrote, that is as bad as the boxes of writing I sent to Ohio State's archives. I hope someone out there groks my theme here. because there is a lot of writing written out of 2nd nature. all the New York Poetry redux, and such and such. langpo mach 3. all the and so ons we are all guilty of. for you, all of you, driving a car is a thoughtless enterprise. for me, it is the news of wonder.
It’s like a visual artist coming to recognize that one need not finish the drawing to get the value of the drawing, whatever it has to offer. So that one focuses instead not on the finished-ness of whatever, but on the value, on what one is after. I find this a very useful view. or at least it correlates with what I have seen in my work. a long, long gestattion period in which I tied to finish something, and the work is largely poor and laboured, till finally I came to see the use of the process and project. the value was not so much in 'great poems', but in poems by which I learned something, about poems, about me, about something. that's why the 3-5 poems contributed to mags doesn't work for me, that context doesn't underline my process, the reason I proceed. I can enjoy those 3-5 poems that others contribute, but feel bereft of context, so that the work often seems just so many pretty things. this isn't a disparagement of mags, just explaining my sensibility.
haven't written much here have I? I'm okay with pauses now, used to be a little anxious to get stuff done. even if it weren't that all fire wonderful. a week in Jersey, e'en as busy as was, was change of pace. as happened, in fact, last Thanksgiving when we went down there. both times, I felt a theme in my writing, partly influenced by location (seaside), partly the books I brought. plus I was able to establish a rhythm, up early to view dawn at the beach, then breakfast then coffee as I wrote. no internet, too. acquisition of pastels, plus the ever handy camera, have been my distraction lately. sunday, whee hah, I was maybe 5 miles from home when I determined that I had a flat. so I walked my phaeton home. attended a large party that evening at friends. I talked a long time with a woman who talked a long time. I mean to say, she was exceptionally ready to talk, especially politics. which was agreeable, she wasn't a god hates you type. she and her husband had recently arrived back in the country after years circumnavigating the globe in a sailboat, a logn trip in which they went everywhere. I took it that her husband had had about enough of that sort of thing, whereas she was still seeking...something. talking with one new person at such an event is usally the best I can do, but I also talked long with a man into gardening. he's an engineer and is involved with the renovation of Thoreau's birthplace. he supplied me with info I didn't know. THIS place is the house in which Thoreau was born. the house next to it used to have a sign saying as much, or so I thought. apparently the red house is the right house, and it used to be located where the other house is. I'm psyched to clear that up. saturday I rode to Walden. we used to drive over, to walk around, but it is 5 bucks, thru out the year to park. and the fencing all around, which I undeerstand, to protect the landscape from over use, natheless bothers me. in the parking lot resides a replica of Thoreau's hut. also a bronze replica of himself. I didn't manage a good photo. the statue is roughly lifesize (HDT was about 5'4" I believe), depicts him earnestly walking about. supposedly reading, but no book in his hand. so he looks like he's performing some necromancy, looking into his empty hand. OR, since he's all brown and muddy looking, looks like he's a freshly wakened zombie rising from the mud, to murder the crass and foolish townsfolk fo Concord. Revenge of the Philosoph. I read somewhere, contrary to expectations, that Thoreau's funeral was well-attended by the local children, that he was much beloved by same. one assumes that he was anti-social, but of course all thru his writing he speaks of discussions with his neighbours and strangers as well. anyway, I was super social by my terms that evening. the evening ended with fireworks. 2 children advised me on when to click pictures. I really love the results.