Rightly or wrongly, I associate the author/s here with Olson studies. The most striking line, which I also felt was somewhat out of place

sharp bursts from the full throat

The surface shimmers with a selection of I would argue fragmentary appeals: archival work; place/landscape; visual images and sketches; concrete shaping; its protagonists (historical and contemporary); science and mathematics (“the language of the unseen relations of things” Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron); etc..

These qualities find a felt unity for me in the life of Lovelace.

There’s a startling quietness to the poetry here, and a sense of beginning again and again despite our mistakes. How good is the poetry? It’d definitely be out of place – if amusing – in less innovative work. And it carries itself energetically. It’d be foolish – ultimately a dishonest exercise – to assess its worth, in terms of the above, without studying Lovelace (or at least a serious interest in the meaning of her father for her): which I mean as definite praise for the collection.


Berrigan ‘the sonnets’

Reading these today. I don’t find them especially memorable, despite some appealing qualities. What is odd about them for me is how the surface (the sonnet form) seems to pick up the more annoying features, let’s say inertness, while still being composed of something emotive, let’s say insincerity. The last line of sonnet XXXIV

Tell me now, again, who I am

The results disappoint me, and they seem to rely on looseness not of the ‘sonnet’ but himself.

I wouldn’t say the surface features of a poem are important per se. I got the word ‘surface’ from Silliman’s analysis of Jack Spicer, in the new sentence. Here, it is claimed that the surface is constructed from a deeper inability to make sense of what is happening in the poem except how quickly reading works: “a dizzying… sequence of such negations”, even if that surface seems quite dull except under analysis. My point is that it is the interplay of surface and depth (here, reading and thinking / sonnet and insincerity) which makes a poem. So, going back to ‘lowbrow’, perhaps acts of forming can only have (relatively) lowbrow content, and a poem has form only when how it is written is in some way concealed by a surface appeal. In which case arguably both poets I have mentioned fail.


‘Slicks’ (with Tim Allen)

A collaboration in litter

Along with some other poems


back to ‘expression’ and…

Another to do… “involuntary fit” to unoriginal use.

It’s formally double, if at all, because the world of past literature is contained along with its antithesis (radical departure from the mundane, and nothing of the sort). Nothing to disagree with!

But so what? Radical poetic practices, obvious ones like Sound Poetry, extend “technique” in a much more exciting way, as a poetic practice rather than new ways of forming.

You speculate on the essence of poetry and find a way to work with it so that your writing is not out of date… but you’re still doing the same thing as anyone else.

Call it an abstraction.


‘Drafts’ again

Decided I was totally wrong in my approach of “Pitch’, and that these poems are completely epic and comparable to e.g. Fisher’s ‘Place’ (which I did not finish but is probably less accessible). I suppose it can be worked through via ‘everyday’ work and leisure, capitalist reproduction etc.. Not that I like reading it that much: its intensities are not immediate / striking enough for my taste. But yeah. Draft 81 ends

So many pebbles had been put on headstones

That it looked like the graves were piled with rubble.

It reads like a promise, that she, they, are writing for us, both the Modernists and the international working class, which I actually believe is true, even if it is too weighted to the former (RE my comment about immediacy), not, I suppose you could say, quite new enough (they were written around the turn of the decade before last).


Another note on TS Eliot

His phrase “mature artists steal”…

I was thinking that “a mature artist” understands not just the life of other poets’ poems, but the life of their own poem (so I suppose in e.g. doggerel there is no composed energy to understand), an order or control the mature poet can critically engage, when busy with acts of writing, to other works of art, and that this is theft, not imitative (which always seems humorous whenever I try to act on), because every word, phrase and line has hermetic use (you can fill that in with theory easily), is stolen from its author. This is actually meant as a how to on relating reading to writing: ‘control over expression’ is the key unit of creativity in so called “mature work” (Pam Ayres or not). So, locate that and (with whatever depth you can manage) don’t let go, because imitative verse, like a well told joke, is naturally disappointing.

How does that link to ‘paralysis of language’? I would reckon it’s key to work what is repulsive into a therapy for others, and that this can be done by finding creative maturity not in, e.g., spontaneity and confession, but your own individual repetitions, rhythms (stress being the most basic element). So, opposing ‘language’ to a grotesque variation of original etc. ideas.

How does that link to any claim that a poem cannot name itself? Maybe a grotesque variation of an original idea is, by necessity, formally bivalent, double, in any mature work.


A halo joins humanity in syrupy

peace. Bless Unity for 

an English weather “crickets sing” 

“hedge crickets sing”,

but in interior lark move 

elegant pliant path.


DuPlessis ‘Pitch’

I can’t quite enjoy these drafts (77-95), and I don’t know if I’ll finish them (that’s ok, they’re necessarily incomplete “drafts”). DuPlessis is clearly a talented poet with strong allusive / hermetic skill. But everything just flashes momentary and then dies, as something meaningless, as soon as I treat the unit (be that a line, phrase, word, whatever) as anything more than a fragment. I am not sure if she’s aware that we might respond like that, or not

S/one stalks those sprechstimme blues.

Yeah, it’s noise that stays noise, nous saying news…

Everything here seems for me to get dragged into this sense of totalising nothingness. I suspect I’ll enjoy this collection if / when finished, which is a strange response to a radically incomplete sequence.

I suppose this response I have is from the sense of writing in which a central feature becomes a marginal note – rather than vice versa, what I’m trying to return to and rework, ideally into evaporating etc. (leaving a meaningful “poem”).

An inverse switching, of margin to centre, may be the case here for some, even-though prima facie it isn’t in its act of composition.

Duplessis has a large feminist catalogue that includes a lot of criticism / scholarship into e.g. Objectivism, so I’ll stop thinking now.


the front page

Maybe the entire “thing” here is shaping poems to recover the language I was trying to write but was too repulsed from: any such absence from drafts is a non-enactment (a failure for a poem to be about its own poetic except grotesquely) of the meaning of poetry (the inability of a poem to name itself as a poem). That sounds a bit overblown though, and explaining why I think that may involve some post modern graphs eh.


‘incidental harvest’

Short chapbook, 2011, by Tim Allen. Sense of muted humour (at his sanity?), dynamic allusion (4Qs e.g., maybe through a Stevens seam), and ecological interest. I didn’t get the repetition, what was being referred to each time. Liked the overt reference to musical instruments. Claims he was a surrealist (little sense of – some sorts anyway – irony there), “if they can do it / anyone can” (‘they’ being rock formations or bats, unsure which):

though I hope it will be enough

to distact

your attention

from every other poem

in the world

So, at turns hyperactive then rhetorical. It is the more beautiful collection. Suppose that in this act of self identification (Rimbaud?) the personality is integrated, then my question was / is that meaningful? Dispose of the poem but not poetry. When the surrealist’s personality is obliterated by nature etc., is the poem then arbitrary but meaningful?

This poem alone exists


Paralysis of language

I was talking to someone about Zukofsky, and think this is a better way of thinking about how I am trying to use the grotesque and the idea of ‘non-music’. It’s simpler like this, less confused