Thursday, June 25, 2009

Workers unite!

So wacked out some spaz based on the word agitprop and me following what it means.

Read some more of Seidel, finished the Earth section of the book, which is by and large based more on earth than off it. It is also more brutal: rape, stalking, overt chauvinism. And right at the end the really interesting poem Frederick Seidel which seems to be him answering all the people who call him anti-semitic, chauvinist, racist, red-neck whatever or is it?
I live a life of laziness and luxury,
Like a hare without a bone who sleeps in a pate.
I met a fellow who was so depressed
He never got dressed and never got undressed.

He lived a life of laziness and luxury.
He hid life away in poetry,
Like a hare running still running from a gun in pate.
He didn't talk much about himself because there wasn't much to say.


There are other examples but
A perfect example in his poetry is the what
Will save you factor.
The Jaws of Life cut the life crushed in the compactor

My life is a snout
Snuffling toward the truffle, life. Anyway!
It is a life of luxury. Don't put me out of my misery.

I am seeking more Jerusalem, not less.
And in the outtakes, after they pull my fingernails out, I confess:
I do love
The sky above.
So this one is interesting, the stuff in the middle kind of digresses into a scene with a naked woman and how the 'poet' can't but has to look.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Realism or lack-of-imaginationism?

Well, Gomorrah wasn't that good. James came too and we both agreed it needed a little spice or something. I for one am definitely bored with the whole realism thing (like that French movie 'The Class' etc), in film anyway. I just can't get past the fact that I prefer stylised, imaginative cinema so much more. Like how less of a movie Pans Labyrinth would have been if it was a realist film about WWII? It's not that I don't like documentary or something (Helvetica is one of the coolest films I've seen in ages), but doco-fiction, I don't know, it seems so limiting. But I guess, it's super popular as far as film goes at the moment (literature too?) so maybe I'm completely missing something. Long live works of the imagination!

So I've been working on the penguin poem and have found some relief with going for more of an asterisk separated montage thing. So it's getting there. Thanks for the words of encouragement Helen!

And read some more of The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995 by Michael Palmer (Carcanet 1999). Maybe that has helped, having dependable old Mike on board. I don't know.

Gonna go for a bike ride this afternoon which will be nice and maybe watch a writer interview at the IIML if Helen is there and if not, I might anyway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does Senator Bill Nelson struggle to get up every morning?

Firstly, check out this picture of Senator Bill Nelson (formerly of NASA). How cool is that NASA suit and the sculptured chin, hair and smile. Googling your own name is never much fun, unless I suspect you are Bill Nelson and so damn good looking. I want one of thos NASA suits, those zips look incredibly practical, although I'm not sure in which way, something to do with doing something mundane in zero gravity I'm sure.

Weird, weird day today. Been at it for fucking hours. I thought I had a good idea to start with about using 'The Penguin History of New Zealand' as a literal title for a poem (or at least the unspoken title of a poem), but I just couldn't get inside the head of a penguin. No surprises there I guess. So I fucked around for ages trying to make than work, then I read some stuff, read some other stuff, had a coffee, read some Seidel and bang, decided on something. Not sure what, but at least a place to start (the whole Unsettlement thing - brutality?) and something kind of came and it has a penguin at the end. Yay! Mission accomplished, but no, not really I don't think. Still don't like it and I don't feel comfortable about it. God, this writing process thing is fucked up. I wish I could work out some thing I could do that would work everytime. Wish I could collect all those clever little ideas and phrases and use those like Kate does or freewrite and come up with something astonishing like H does. Fuck, I don't know, what do I do? And why can't I do it?

So yeah read lots of little things today to try and get the engine going. Kate told me she reads for at least an hour before writing and doesn't allow herself any less, which seems like a good idea. I usually only do abotu 20 minutes maybe half an hour. Not today though, I did a bit of Sam Sampson, James Brown, History of NZ, Tusiata Avia and of course ol' Seidel.

I dunno. I just don't. Got to stay positive though.
I'm going to go and watch a film called Gomorrah this afternoon. It's supposed to be good and the sun is out, so not all bad.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Agitprop: Thing of Beauty

My new Jackson Mac Low book arrived today. It's called Thing of Beauty and is his selected and new works. Only just got into obviously and mainly only read the foreword and a few of his early ones.
My favourte so far is What's the matter don't you like candy (not too sure about that title though) that he wrote in 1941:

I have been told that a child crying indicates the death of a songbird
I do not know whether to believe this, but I know crickets are often
affected by high temperatures
I would like to know what the bug is with long thin six legs who paused
fluttering up and down for a while just now and then
flew away
It might have something to do with the crying of children
He goes on like that for about two pages, the phrase: 'crying of children' is repeated all over the place and he builds it up through that repetition exploring all sorts of weird ideas and incidents around 'crying children.' It works though, I think, because of that matter-of-fact tone and the unusual places it goes.

Anyway, he is much more well known for his chance-operation poems or his 'systematic' type ones, where he uses two texts to create a new one. And the foreword goes into quite a bit of detail about why he went this way and it basically comes down to his buddhist belief about removing ego from art, although he later admitted there is as much ego in chance operation as in the traditional lyric poem. He also talks about politics (hello, back on that again) which is strange for someone who has pretty much no control over his how his work comes out. It sounds like he had very strong view on war and violence, but I wonder how many people would know that of him from his work (his earlier lyric poems were often heavily political)? I guess there is nothing wrong with that, but to talk about it so heavily in the introduction to a work spanning 50 years that could be interpreted in an almost infinite number of ways strikes me as a little strange. Perhaps he considered his rejection of the ego as his ultimate political statement? He does talk about poetry as being capable of change, but subversively so and not through direct agitprop argument which I agree with, but I'm still not sure he is doing that either:
The politically aware artist can hope that what gives her pleasure and what gives her pain will give others the kinds of pleasures and pains that may help engender more positive social arrangements [interesting that the artist is a 'she' like a boat].
Anyway, he has undoubtedly served post-modern poetry to no end and is an important figure and I should really hold judgement on the existence of politics or beauty (another thing he is said to hold dear) in his work until I've read the whole thing. All interesting stuff, I just wish the Frederick Seidel best of book was the same price. Times certainly are tough right now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Politics, Szymborska and power

Just to go back to yesterdays post about politics...

I've been doing some more research on it because I really want to know what this politics thing is.

There is this poem by Wislawa Szymborska, Children of Our Era (translated by JoannaTrzeciak and retrieved from

We are children of our era;

our era is political.

All affairs, day and night,

yours, ours, theirs,

are political affairs.

Like it or not,

your genes have a political past,

your skin a political cast,

your eyes a political aspect.

What you say has a resonance;

what you are silent about is telling.

Either way, it's political.


Her position seems clear, although she does qualify with the first line of course, but isn't every era political in some way? The world is never devoid of problems. So I guess that didn't help much as far as defining what is political and what isn't. So I went to trusty old wikipedia which seems relatively well referenced in this case and had this to say:

Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. The term is generally applied to behaviour within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power"[1] and refers to the regulation of a political unit,[2] and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.[3]

"Politics" ultimately comes from the Greek word "polis" meaning state or city. "Politikos" describes anything concerning the state or city affairs. In Latin, this was "politicus" and in French "politique". Thus it became "politics" in Middle English ( see the Concise Oxford Dictionary).

There is no academic consensus on the exact definition of "Politics", and what counts as political and what does not. Max Weber defined politics as the struggle for power.

So it seems power has something to do with it and group (or societies?) as well in which case, is there such a thing as personal politics which people talk about a lot. Can one person be political, or is politics by definition trying to convince people of something, thereby creating a group of people who (supposedly) agree on some issue. If that is true then I would be uneasy about calling any of my work political. I've never written a poem with the intention of convincing someone of something. I'll go back to what John Kinsella said about him wanting nothing more from his work than for it to be interesting. I'm the same, thought-provoking, but only for the purposes of entertainment (or art? - but that's another debate). So that seems clear.

I'd also be uneasy about having a struggle for power in my work. I find that kind of thing pathetic to be honest, the want of some people to control other people. I'm no anarchist by any means, and probably the opposite when it comes to ideas of state control, but it seems those things have no place in poetry. It isn't an exercise in power over the anything, over the reader, over the poem, over the poet. It just isn't like that for me. So maybe I am an anarchist when it comes to writing, I like the words to govern themselves or something, create some kind of rule free utopia without the need for an interfering, pesky poet to control them. I guess the key word there is utopia, in that it those ideas can never exist in the real world, even in the poetic world, but fuck me if I'm not going to try.

So yay! Down with politics! Up with art (entertainment - groan)! Now that sounds like politiking.

And morality? That is another topic. Maybe I'll google that tomorrow. Some pious person must have written a poem on it at some stage. In fact, wasn't there several centuries dedicated to it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nitrous oxide and politics

I've been reading Kate Camp's manuscript and fuck has it what!
Direct injection overload!
And I wrote something today, that for the first time in ages was actually fun and seemed to have potential, but when I think about it (which I'm trying not to do) nothing has really changed. I had cereal and milk for breakfast instead of my usual toast, but how could that affect it? The writing is the same, the ideas are the same, the only difference being a bit of fuel additive in the tank. Nitrous oxide? Orange juice? Camp smoke?

Jay Parini in his essay The Politics of Poetry doesn't argue anything except that poets have always been political, most subvertly, some overtly and to ignore that in your own work (at least deliberately) is to risk becoming irrelevant.
What is politics? Putting yourself on the left or the right? The top or the bottom? Is it just caring about shit outside of your own small life? I'm not sure I've ever understood that. It seems there are people who are definitely political - join the party, have bumper stickers, signs on the front lawn - and then there are the people who focus on the small things - the unfairly imprisoned, the near-extinct bird - these people could be from any party and are likely to be from none, I guess they acknowledge what is right is never clear or simple. That is the kind of politics I like, but I don't like it being called politics which always seems to be about bigger overriding (broad stroked?) themes. Surely a poets' politics it's just the stuff of the world? Morality?
And on the topic of whether poetry ever made a difference, I don't think it has in the same way that a journalist never stopped a war. But poets can highlight things, explain things, use the politics of language as a tool. It doesn't change anything in the real world except highlight something that wasn't highlighted before. And that is one definition of a good poem I think.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Doctor Love

Still working through The Cosmos Trilogy.

I've started on the Life on Earth section which are mostly more brutal and confronting and anchored in the real world (is the universe the real world?). He often has a redeeming ending though. I wouldn't say beautiful, because it is still vicious in many ways, but I guess it opens the poem up to being more than just disturbing, like at the end of Doctor Love that discusses oncology, breast cancer, bad film scripts, the commercialism of gene research, murder and then ends with this stanza:
In a soft East River breeze -- like glowing fireflies of snow.
Dear Hart, it is spring.
Cutting a person open
Is possible without pain.
Again, I don't really know how or why this poem works and maybe on some level it doesn't - I am always uncomfortable and in some ways resenting the poem I think.

His line-breaks and diction and syntax are tight but not neat and are crafted but not beautiful. So I guess if you were glancing over them you might see the harshness of them and not notice the skill behind it. Part of that might also be that there isn't a lot of reference to go by. His style seems quite unique (in my limited reading), like the kind of writer who doesn't really imitate other writers, although I've read elsewhere that early on he almost directly borrowed the aesthetics of Robert Lowell, so maybe it is more of a content thing? Maybe the content is dictating the feeling of aesthetic unease.

For an example there is this opening stanza from the same poem:
It was a treatment called
Doctor Love, after the main character.
One of the producers discovered
To our horror a real
I would think (one of) the normal ways to line break that out might be:
It was a treatment called Doctor Love,
After the main character.
One of the producers discovered to our horror
A real Dr. Love,
Now, I know some people might say, but what about free verse! In this day and age we can line break anywhere. This is post-modernism, what Seidel is doing is no different! But I think there is one overriding aesthetic that we still cling to and Seidel doesn't and that is that a poem is supposed to be a thing of beauty or at least a thing of irony, which is a kind of clever beauty I suppose. Seidel doesn't worry about that at all. His poems are uneasy, disquieting, disturbing. I guess like when the first horror movie came along? The early vampire movies? I don't know. But it seems he has figured out a way to do this, without being overly dramatic or judgemental, although his poems are loaded with judegmental language and he uses words like cancer and murder and cutting a person open, but he gets away with it. And maybe there is something in the aesthetics that allows him to do this. Maybe he isn't trying to make it into a thing of beauty which would seem wrong and he is giving the poem over to the content, letting that take control.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cosmos Trilogy

So I've been reading the genius of Frederick Seidel (The Cosmos Trilogy. 2003. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52891-8). His poems are strange, slippery, all the same length, sometimes shallow, sometime incredibly deep, sometimes perplexing, but always interesting. I don't know what he does, but it works. I think it is tone partially - you never know where an image or metaphor will go, he doesn't set up expectations I guess, right from the first stanza we know this work will go places:
The wobbly flesh of an oyster
Out of its shell on the battlefield is the feel
Of spacetime
In the young universe.
I mean, how could you not want to read on after that first stanza from Black Stovepipe Hat. He has some brilliant metaphors too. Not those nice fluffy, sensitive kind that so many people do so well, you know the beautiful ones - his are harsh, flimsy, funny and ironic and most of all completely and utterly original. No one would have ever used those two things in that way before and to be honest not many people ever will again. One of those writers who makes you want to copy what he does, but not sure how to do it. It's almost like if I tried to copy his poem word for word it wouldn't come out as good (Starlight):
The universe is a single organism
Made of two
Or more individual,
Or many more than two, individual

Moving parts and blitzkrampf,
Explosive but balletic slow-mo
Of vast organs
Of ecstasy making sounds

The radio telescopes will hear
Billions of light-years from now,
The way whales croon
Whalesong through the ocean microphone

To an audience in the darkness far away.
To live your life
You have to use it up.
A star performs its nuclear core.
Fucking amazing. That is another thing he does too I think, he has these really long broken up sentences with so many things going on inside them that at first glance it seems like a whole bunch of disjunctive ideas, but when you begin to unravel it and put it all together, there is a method to it and the meaning starts to seep through. I like that and could be a good point for me to remember. He seems to be interested in unusual syntax and line breaks in a similar way to myself too, so maybe I can learn from this guy.

So a successful reading anyway. I haven't been this excited about finding a new poet (to me) in ages.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New books and Leigh Davis

Wrote some more shite today. Yay!

Bought a massive pile of books yesterday, which has left me broke but excited.
I'll list them ay?
  • Bloodclot, Tusiata Avia
  • Favourite Monsters, James Brown
  • Everything Talks, Sam Sampson (been wanting to read some of his stuff for ages)
  • How to Live by the Sea, Lyn Davidson
  • The Fainter, Damien Wilkins
So much cool stuff to read and it's all from here!

OK then. Here comes the big spiel about Leigh Davis. Chris suggested that I check out his book Willy's Gazette (1983, Jack Books) mainly, I think, because he uses a central character (Willy) to hold a loose kind of narrative through the often mysterious and perplexing poems, most of which are title-less and don't have a clear beginning and end. I had no idea looking into him would open up such a can of worms.

Firstly, I've read about half of Willy's Gazette and I think I get the gist of where it is going, or, I guess, where it isn't going and indeed Willy does kind of hold it together, but other than that it seems to be an almost random assortment of lines, details, musing, dialogue, which don't seem to ever convey anything particularly concrete. It is set with an almost hypnotic, but not predictable, rhythm though which keeps you reading on kind of transfixed I guess. It is also printed quite weirdly in a type script on a large format book (roughly A4 size) and the cover is black with plain white lettering. There are some parts that have been through scored like you can do on a type-writer. I'm sure it was all wonderfully avant-garde at the time. Today it just seems a little shitty and hard to read, like the writer hasn't put much effort in. I dunno. I think the main thing is that it just isn't that inviting to read.

So anyway, I was interested in his use of disjunction and the kind of slipperiness of what was going on in any particular bit. So I looked him up on the Internet to find out more about him and to see if his stuff has changed since 1983. I read a weird almost combative interview with a guy from Landfall in 1985. It seemed Leigh was being asked to defend his controversial criticisms of Allen Curnow's and CK Stead's work that he published in his magazine And. The interviewer also asked him about how he views society as being poor readers of poetry, how they kind of swallow the 'traditionally' inspired stuff and most are quite unaccepting of avant-garde poetics and are not willing to let go of what they think a poem is or should be. Which in many ways is true I think, but they way he argued his points. Fuck me, he sounded like some kind of pseudo-intellectual fascist. I couldn't really follow his logic in most of it, partly because of my limited academic vocabulary, buy mainly I think because he was more interested in inciting than arguing. It was a bit all over the place and weird. So overall, I dunno, not impressed I guess. No wonder avant-garde poetry has such a bad name. That word is so dirty now. People seem to think of pompous wankers, which I guess many of them were. I think these days though, writers (and artists) seem less interested in arguing poetics and more interested in just creating and accepting the way everyone does their own thing.

For the issue of Blackmail Press I am helping to edit, we had a sentence - 'Good art is about resisting tradition' in the call for submissions. James in the class, who claims it was an accident, used this in an exercise we did, changing 'resisting' to 'resenting.' I was horrified that some people might mis-read it like that, subconsciously or something. And I guess that is highlighted again with regard to Leigh Davis - he seems to be all about 'resenting' rather than 'resisting,' there is a world of difference in those two things. I think resisting is about acknowledgement and respect and kind of leaning on tradition, but one where you are conscious of that and know that you have to push back to get anywhere. Resentment, is well, just bitter and I guess that would come across in your work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

OK, super quick because I have to catch a bus in 10 minutes. Wrote something new today! Yay! First time in over a week and it's called 'On allowing myself to fail' so no prizes for guessing my method for putting pen to paper. So all good. Haven't read anything, but I'll be at the IIML for part of the afternoon and I'm hoping to track down some Frederick Seidel stuff and get into it.

Also, pretty close to finishing The Rehearsal. It is a fantastic book. I read a review by (I think?) the NY Times that said it was good and when Ellie learns to pack an emotional punch she will be great. Interesting comment (in relation to poetry too). Does writing need an emotional punch? Can it operate successfully on an intellectual level? Or is it just great to have both? But yeah, I think it is a great book, although I can't help wondering if it hammers home the whole 'performance as life' theme just a little too often. Dunno about that though. Maybe we wouldn't get it then? Or would we. Is just having the two different worlds enough to show this. The high school and the drama school. Do we get it, just from that?

Amazing insights though. Like the person who when thinking about death comes to the conclusion that they feel nothing and their life returns to normal pretty quickly. They don't have any amazing epiphanies or view life in a different way and they have to force themselves to feel sad. I have always wondered about the performances people put on around death. The few encounters I have had with it have always left me thinking more about myself than anything else. The kind of selfishness that no one ever seems to admit to. We have to be strong at those times. Why? It seems to be only truly incomprehensible thing humans have to deal with. Why can't we just be confused and ambivalent and selfish? Sorry, ranting. This isn't about literature any more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

History, language and influence

Wrote the third part to the Unsettlement/Settlement poem today. Thanks Chris for suggesting this and also giving me the 'Morning, Noon and Night' exercise, which I didn't do, but helped with the three-parter thing.

Watched Michael Palmer reading at Berkeley's Lunch Poems series. He mentioned a poem called 'So' (I think?) by Wallace Stevens that inspired a series of poems of his called 'So 1 (2,3,4...)' which piqued my interested because I think I am also influenced by Wallace Stevens, although I haven't read much of his stuff. The reason I say that because some of the things I have read of his just look and sound a little similar to mine, although I'm sure I've never read them before. So I'll try and find the 'So' series, it would be great to read a series of poems by someone who directly influences me on someone who indirectly influences me.

And on that note, I've just finished reading another Jay Parini essay on 'Tradition and Originality' which talks about borrowing/stealing from your precursor. This seems to have become accepted for writers to do in even the most obvious of ways since Eliot wrote The Wasteland and there doesn't seem to be much argument about this, not by writers at least. The most interesting thing he mentioned though, was how contemporary writing seems to inform how the canon is read (he cited an Eliot essay on this), so that by reinterpreting the past we are actually altering it. So if Michael Palmer was to write a poem that is influenced by a Wallace Steven's poem, then we would read the Wallace Steven's poem in a different way, perhaps contextually, perhaps just by giving it more significance. So it is a two way street, which is nice.

But he went on to compare this with the nature of language itself, how all words and stolen from the past and reinterpreted, recontextualised every time we use them and it is just that poets are conscious of this process and actively seek to give old words new meanings, old poems new life. I like that too.
Poetry is "about" the past, in that poets understand that language itself is history and that words have slipped through time, undergone mutations, shifts in meaning; but each word is a palimpest as well: it contains multiple erasures, which underlie its current meaning, coloring it, giving it character and ambiguity and direction. A poem, in this sense, is also a palimpest, a "writing over" of previous poems, and therefore a gift to the future, where it will be misread, misdirected, even misplaced.
Also, I like that small phrase "language itself is history." That might give me some help with my history series I think, which I really don't want to be about 'history' in the sense of this is what has happened in the past. Maybe etymology (and influence?) is the key. I started down that direction in one of the poems, although not very successfully. Maybe I could pick some interesting words that are 'normally' associated with history and look up the etymology, writing the poem from there? So it becomes the history of the word I guess.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Metaphor, symbol and motif

Nothing again today. I've been reading some stuff for a workshop with the guys from my old studio. Very interesting, makes me want to write some prose. Meeting with Chris in 2 hours and 4 minutes.

..three minutes later...

Actually, I will briefly talk about the Jay Parini essay I read yesterday about metaphor. It wasn't particularly engaging except he talked about the difference between symbol and metaphor and the major difference seemed to be that a symbol has an inherent metaphorical impact so that it doesn't need to be directly compared, like instead of saying 'her eyes, her diamonds' you could just say 'her diamonds sparkled' and supposedly if the symbol is well chosen the reader will get the significance.

So in that way are they cliched metaphors that don't need to be explained any more? Can they be fresh symbols? I guess they could, but they would need to be alluded to over a longer period, like in a novel or something, the repeating symbol of a cardboard box might come up, and even though there is no obvious cliche metaphor (like for say roses or diamonds) to associate with that the repetition might give it one. A prison, transport, empty packaging? But is that then a motif? What is the difference between a symbol and a motif?

Also, what about the idea that a symbol must firstly be an ordinary thing before it is a metaphor. i.e. The symbol in the story is firstly a thing, a flower, a gem before it is the metaphor, a woman, someones piercing eyes. Do metaphors only exist as a reference to something else? Do they ever exist on their own? Even though the reader should(?) know it is a metaphor, is the a split second when it comes to life as it's own being before being joined with the other thing?

I don't know. It is interesting to consider though.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Like a tortoise

Haven't written anything new today. Just editing old stuff.

I'm not sure where I want to go next. All that stuff from the workshop is still sinking in. I don't want to rush it.
Meeting with Chris tomorrow, so hopefully that will help, but I think the main thing is to think about it a bit first. Read stuff maybe and just wait. I feel if I was to start writing right now I'd get frustrated that it was just the same as I was doing before and I don't want that, I want that excited feeling before I start. The new idea, the new angle.

I've been reading The Rehearsal. Which has been good. I wonder if James has read it? It reminds me a bit of his stuff, all those odd figures with titles instead of names. The power games. They have a similar tone/sensibility too I think. Like satirical I suppose, not in a crass kind of way, but subtly dark and ironic. I like it, the theme or whatever really comes through in books like that (Kafka like I s'pose) where the character are more like caricatures. Only on the surface though, they do get fleshed out, but keep their caricature-like extreme personalities.

Also, spent a large part of this morning drafting acceptance/rejection letters (is there a nicer word than rejection?) for BMP. The issue if looking fucking awesome if I don't say so myself. Quite a lot of really exciting stuff that makes my skin tingle. Can't wait for it to come out. I never thought it would be so exhilarating editing other peoples stuff.

It is a beautiful clear Wellington day today. I think I'm going to read some Jay Parini essays then go down to the park to kick a ball around for awhile.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Workshop come down

I have been slack on this.

Had my first full workshop yesterday. I was really interested to hear the different things people focussed on. I don't think there was anything too surprising there. The issues I was expecting kind of came up. Not that I know how to solve them or anything:
  • Ambiguity/elusiveness. Still don't know what to do about this, in some ways I like the reader to bring their own experiences and wants to the poem, but I don't want that to completely fail, so I am reluctant to put in stuff that waves a flag saying 'this is what this poem is about', although the 'long' poem, Making nice things out of straw, which for me is just as elusive as the others seemed to be better received. Maybe this is to do with if you read something longer the meaning kind of soaks out of it a bit more. Rather than ending in a kind of abrupt way, leaving the reader hanging. Maybe long poems might be the answer. The other day someone was telling me how Amy Brown is doing her PhD in Melbourne and trying to create one epic poem in 3 years. Go the Cantos! But I don't think I want to go there. That seems a bit too much like a selfish challenge to me. The whole 'can I pull it off' thing, but a few that are 5 pages or so long would be nice I think. Concrete details are always good too I guess.
  • Tics. Like the repetition of sentences twisted around or negated to achieve an effect. Damien mentioned that too and I think I've started to hold back on that a bit with my later stuff. Well at least I hope I have.
And there was heaps of useful editing things and suggestions for confusing sentences and words etc. So that will all make it's way in there. Overall it was a great workshop and incredibly valuable.

Lindsay lent me Why poetry matters, by Jay Parini (2008, Yale University Pr.) which I think I had read one of the essays before, but I'm not sure where. So I look forward to reading the whole book, if I haven't done already - my memory is atrocious. Other than that though I haven't read too much other stuff. Everything seemed to be on hold while I waited for this workshop thing (and Queens Birthday weekend too). But over the holidays, damn, try and stop me!
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