Thursday, February 23, 2012


So, the poem, the fifth of a proposed sequence of ten, is done! --in spite of itself. Let me explain. There was no through-line at all, no momentum. What I had was the dream I'd woken on and its affect on me, thus the initial scribbles. There was a wish to recognize concealment or at least abstain from the superficial hail & heartiness which logic places upon affable humanity; and this could be characterized as "monster" (the persona raised thereon), which figure was consonant with the most obvious aspect of The Midsummer Night's Dream (twisting my peculiar way the enchantment ruling its characters), that being the formal source of the poem(s). It's not giving too much away to offer that the first words of each poem are : "More Midsummer Night's Dream than Dante". Literally, bit by bit, from 31st January, '012 to just the other day, 16th February, the poem was constructed.

Big deal! But as I consider it now, making the poem (making it more than writing it, where, for me, writing holds natural fluency) I experienced certain truths of composition which in my more-or-less spontaneous approach had slipped from consciousness. For example, that one doesnt know where the poem is going or how to get it going ought not disqualify the process. I confess, and against the way I used to teach back in the '70s & '80s, I was ready to scrub the poem several times because it wasnt immediately working! There is a psychology to the "work in progress" : one must relax & have faith... And so I did --a word here or there, a phrase, rejigging the order, but not knowing how it would or if it should coalesce. And then it did --how many days & drafts? --the words & lines came together as a poem! I was amazed!

Because I'm writing a fixed line & syllable type of poem for many years now, and also imagine series or sequences rather than individual poems [see my chapbook, EXILE TRIPTYCH (Vagabond Press, 2011) for most recent published example], the spontaneity is qualified, but even so it better describes me to myself than ever construction could. Which isnt at all to say I dont work & re-work lines, relishing the redrafting, counting, sounding out. I plainly do. I should also note there's always prose on the go (journals, journalesque criticism & review, chronicle, fiction), which means I either work simultaneously on poems & prose, or I let one go entirely for the duration of the prior commitment. Obviously, my experience of prose is free of this stop-go construction : no narrative, no prose. But maybe that's similar to the type of poetry I write --always referring to the theme or working it out. 'On song' & 'on subject' in this process are essentially adjacent.

--17/23, February, 012