Saturday, June 16, 2007

I biked over to Walden Pond this morn, as witness the pictures below. yes, The DAYS POEM Whirled Tour continues. which I am taking way too seriously, but anyway. it's a lovely place, tho fences, crowds, 5 bucks to park year round, all combine to take some magic away. not that it was ever a retreat, a mile stroll into the village. a spa was on the shore in the late 19th century, and let's don't forget that train that preceded David Henry David's arrival there. I got to the pond around 8, and performed photographic rites at the Thoreau statue and replica cabin. as I finished assaulting the statue a man stepped from the cabin and immediately spoke with me, as if we were finishing a conversation. he remarked how Thoreau's journal was some 2 million words, which works out to roughly 250 a day. I said, about a page a day, typed. yes, he said, but some days he might not write so much, and some days it might not be good stuff. and the thing is, the guy seemed vaguely familiar, like he was a tv personality, I mean of the sort on public tv. across the street and down into the geologic bowl, plenty of swimmers were in the water or soon to be. I mean distance swimmers, most of whom wore wetsuits. water level was unusually high, I've never seen it so. I remember walking there when Erin was 12, and he saw a ballasted person walking chin deep in the water. which amused Erin greatly, he had to converse with the struggling exerciser. I had strong feelings of 1st being with Beth. we went to Walden a number of times that spring and summer. which was also when I was writing DAYS POEM. so the poem inhabits that space, sure enough. hence this effort to take silly photos en scene. I went to the site of Thoreau's cabin. a picture exists, I might even have posted it to this blog years ago, of Beth and me standing at this site. we enjoined some lucky passersby to place our image into posterity. gosh, was my hat on backwards, my mouth dumbly open? and did we not look like recent refugees from that vaunted turnip truck? yep. an impressive cairn built of pebbles stand on the site, including several rocks with writing on them, poems even. I added another pebble. Thoreau presents the portrait of himself in his doorway making jonnycakes. inside, a bed, a chair and a table. a pleasant simplification. the idea of Thoreau escaping is perverse. his experiment took care of most of his needs, tho of course it was back to mom with the laundry. okay, we all have our imperfections. his scouring of the landscape was a job and purpose. his declaration that all one needs for a home is a coffin-like box is hilarious but only partly exaggerated. I'm speaking of the writer life. he had access to books, and the natural world was plenty book for him. he had a journal and pen. he had his flute. and now I'm thinking that the Thoreau expert that I met either had his facts wrong or I misheard, because 2 million words doesn't seem a lot. the edition I have of his journal is some 5000 pages. what would it be, 100, 200 words a page? numbers, whatever. he didn't write form, if you get me. he was thinking aloud. thinking in a creative sense. he wasn't campaigning against earlier poets or novelists so much as ideas. more essence than form. I think aesthetic competitions get in our way. I mean the taxonomies, such as Ron Silliman imparts to the literature that he reads. think of Thoreau on his walks, ready to be interested by everything. Silliman, not to single him out, insists on boundaries. of course a poem is not a birch leaf or rainbow trout, and no one should have to love crappy poetry. but I sense a but. Thoreau allowed his curiosity, accepted it as vantage. what I learned from Robert Grenier, seeing him in action, is this 1st step of seeing the writing as poetry. I thought he was exceptionally generous to the writers in class. the poetry world is driven by attainment. some of which are plain ludicrous: poetry prizes, vetted university chairs, and the sincerest chuckles of getting it at readings. some are merely miserable, the castigation of writer X in favour of vaunted Y. we all do it. I don't want to anymore. not because of Thoreau but because I'm finding a loss in such limitations of view. Grenier, it struck me, was excited by poetry, language in that intensity. descriptive assessments don't get far. gatekeepers, feh! I guess this Thoreau I'm inspired by is my invention,romantic as we all romanticize. but it is to a purpose, which I think is displayed in DAYS POEM. just o round this back to the beginning point.

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Wow! Totally Awesome BOOK!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

not to out anyone, but Anny Ballardini wrote to say that she purchased a copy of Days Poem. yes, it is indiscreet of me to tell all. but in her message to me (hah! Days Poem's 1st incursion into Italy, Europe, anything to the right of Bedford, MA!!!) she referred to the poem as "Your Vocabularies". great, wonderful, lovely! I like that sense of active usage, that I write with "my" words. a writer on the Wryting list, Bob Brueckl, under-published yet astonishingly unique, frequently uses the words of other writers, most particularly those of John M Bennett. I don't know his process, but it is NOT a matter of quoting. Bob always credits the author from whom he mines the words, yet the poems always reverberate as original Brueckl's (id est: strange, lyrical, squalid, scatological and lovely). the possession of those words is fluid, is the point. so I believe that the words in DAYS POEM are mine as superluminary possessions that shine for the moment of the poem as mine. and you may use the same words as yours, even at the same time. !!!!! I guess it's a socialist possession, as the use and re-use is inexhaustible. anyway, thanks to Anny for her part in the potlatch that is poetry.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

from Call Me Ish:

You can approach BIG America and spread yourself like a pancake, sing her stretch as Whitman did, be puffed up as we are over PRODUCTION. It's easy. THE AMERICAN WAY. Soft Turn out paper cups, lies flat on the brush. N.G.

Or recognize that our power is simply QUANTITY. Without considering purpose. That is, so long as we continue to be INGENIOUS about machines, and have the resources.

Or you can take an attitude, the creative vantage. See her as OBJECT in MOTION, something to be shaped, for use. It involves a first act of physics. You can observe POTENTIAL and VELOCITY separately, have to, to measure THE THING. You get approximate results. They are usable enough if you include the Uncertainty Principle, Heisenberg's law that you learn the speed at the cost of exact knowledge of the energy and the energy at the loss of exact knowledge of the speed.

I think this is wickedly wise stuff. doesn't that 3rd paragraph sound like a disquisition on language? America, that thing beyond country, is a language, as well as an implement. it is a political unit, of course, even as it slops over boundaries. but stop not there. you maybe heard of the investment turbine, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). bursting at the seams with the new working monster. not talking just poli sci or economics. here is language caught in people, or vice versa. a language of usage, and a usage of language. think of the recent examples in poetry. LANGUAGE poetry, which is so consciously political in its self-regard. or flarf, which is consciously apolitical it its sources. apolitical doesn't exist, of course, so naturally we have a cognitive intensity of concern in flarf's welcoming of the so-called inappropriate. I throw these out as examples of the merrie making to be confronted. I mean I go back to Olson, who I have been reading for 35 years. and he goes back to Melville. and Melville goes back. the news aint old, and it has something to do with how poetry aint a knick knack. it aint. it don't gotta be fraught with laboured points, but certainly it seems to live stronger in a confrontation of essential speech and action. love America? hate it? what's the point? sure there are American acts you can point to, either way, but the more majestic problem is the machine itself, and how it construes us. and by us, I mean every which person, creature, plant or entity humbled on this orb. how do we contain any of this in speech? how does speech become action? no doubt I'm way beyond myself here, but I just want to maintain that Olson aint ready for the back shelf, so far as I can see. and Moby Dick continues as a new and vital puzzlement.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

so I started to (re)read both Call Me Ishmael and Moby Dick. I take Ish as exemplar in criticism, or how I want to involve myself therewith, at least. it's Olson's thorough involvement as a writer that makes it for me. that is, criticism as descriptor is only mildly useful to me, and this because my sense of taxonomy isn't particularly sharp. I like seeing Olson tussle familiarly with Melville. it's an energy exchange, and still highly charged. Moby Dick is dear to me as well. modernism became (as I see it, in that old century) a re-vision of boundaries. the poem as this deft enclosed field of posture, and the novel as romanticized neighbourhood of the unliving portrait: both these tributaries flexed into a repositioning stream. the nature of which slurs expectations. the interesting novels have released plot from its imperial directive. and poems aren't gems. MD is a poem, and why not. I think the stuck poems nowadays are practiced sessions with other poems, half-assed cloing experiments. you know, NY School Mach 99, LANGUAGE POETRY v 27. history, science, philosophy are saviours of both, allowing fresh air to instill, simply to instill. there's some critical lojinx going on, causing literature to turn into something slack and segregated rather than proficient and alive. art isn't decoration any more than it is a cv bullet. the arts are something integrally inside life, a communication and process and integration that doesn't just enrich but motivates and encourages. which is why the art maven naysayers as well as the blind eye provocateurs are so wrong. I know I'm screeding out, when I only want to remark the vivacity of both Melville and Olson in their astonished work of discovery. "What did happen to measure when the rigidities dissolved?" asked Olson in a Melville essay. kick ass, you tards, is the message, grown into the spring wind of lovely grass and leaves and hopeful flowers for a while.