Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writing Poetry

On a Youtube video for an early demo of  "Everything In Its Right Place," our presenter comments that they kinda lose it at the end but it's still awesome. I don't do so well here, but I'm just apologizing beforehand. "I can never lose it"? Maybe so, but maybe not. Welcome back to the blogging, rather than the slitting of a story up into bits. Continue on at your own peril.

The final poem in Billy Collins’s Nine Horses, entitled, somewhat meta-ly, is “Poetry.” In it, he cautions against “mak[ing] a reader climb/over the many fences of a plot,” which he sees as more fitted toward the novelist or the playwright. However, as a writer of poetry, the first thing you can’t do is sketch unbreakable lines around all you want to do with this specific field of your work. To say that poems can be defined in any sense that somehow excludes other modes of writing, while capturing everything that you see as poetry, is to pick and choose, to elect, if you will, a group of people as poets.

And the one thing I’ve really gotten out of writing, is that you can’t come at this seeing yourself as special. This is just your particular fix, and you can’t let it get to your head. At one point in “Found,” and this may have been something that I clipped for the blog, Carl says something about not understanding how other people aren’t writers. Which is because this is just something I’ve been doing for a long time: I didn’t realize it was what I wanted to be until about two years ago, but throughout my life I’ve written stuff.

This is one of the lessons of Life is Elsewhere. Kundera meant to reveal the poet as a childish occupation, but instead showed the different characterizations that create the childish poet. The sort of person that I questioned in a poem here back during the hundred—called “Citizenry” it closed out 2/6’s date. This is a question I mean to discuss later, more so than now, so I’ll just leave the words out here. I searched back through my poems to find 2/6 as the date and I found a new point to bring up there as well: at one point I mention something along the lines of “stage fright is what I call writing these days,” and it’s a little scary to write in front of an audience. This is the thought process that has killed about a half-dozen tweets I’ve considered putting out there; yeah, about six, because I’m fairly unabashed on Twitter. I’m no Warren Ellis, talking all kinds of shit, but I just write a bunch of useless stuff there.

But this is just sad, how ridiculously off-topic I’ve gotten. Writing poetry amounts to a lot of typing on my phone these days; various ideas include the uninspired piece of visual that is this: “999-666-88-777-33/8-999-7-444-66-4 8-33-99-8/6-33-7777-7777-2-4-33-7777/999-666-88-777-33/66-666-8/9-777-444-8-444-66-4/7-666-33-6-7777.” This is a pitiful code that you probably deal with everyday, so maybe you can work it out. For me, that’s the kind of thing that amounts to a poem—it’s got that Borges style, you see? You can’t do things like that in any other thing than a poem.

This is the way Silliman does it. Or rather this is the way my romantic view of Silliman does it. He does write his poems with phones these days. He lost his hard-drive recently and this ended up munching about 200 lines from his most recent work, Feral Machines, or somewhat his most recent work. The way Silliman does it is both odd somewhat pretentious and quite epic. His entire career will amount to one poem, of which there will only be sections. Feral Machines will come after Revelator, I believe, and the latter is what was featured in Poetry last month, where I first ran across him.

This is a learning curve stage; I’m digging into it a little at a time. Silliman is a part of all this. The tired old way of turning metaphors recurs here, as I see myself as an archaeologist sifting through a trash dump. Not to insult the world of poetry, but rather to present a piece of ambiguous jargon; like Marx, “religion is the opiate of the people,” by which he meant it was an excellent painkiller, I mean to say that it’s a great place of interest. A question on my first final in an anthropology class; “What would be the most interesting to an archaeologist?” I answered a human skull and that was obvious wrong. The trash pit was right.

Writing poetry, for me, isn’t something I’ve ever done. I’ve written poems, but sitting at a computer and speaking to yourself and writing that done, simply inserting line breaks, that’s not writing poetry. Writing poetry is something else, just like reading poetry. It’s wanting to get a pencil out and sketch around the page, learning all that you can from the words written out on it.

In the perfect world, I see myself as collecting lines, as any good poet would be. It helps get the language. And you really do need that reviser’s touch, which I haven’t developed. All the poetry I’m writing right is simply that of a memory device. A lot of them are either Facebook statuses or in a note called notebook that is explained as “just a place for little chunks of ideas chained in words as poems.”

Which is Silliman again, his blog, which is such a tour-de-force that you stare at the long post that are line upon line of just various compiled lists. He’s writing poems there, you ken it? For every little thing—in summary of some posts, ideas, concepts: aside from the content which is often quite glorious, Silliman is writing these interesting little snippets. I feel like I’m slipping, now. That this blog post is becoming anything, but—There is the thought that I’m speaking alone in a room and other people are behind a two-way window laughing at me. I think that’s something Carl would think. In fact, maybe he will.

But it probably won’t be poetry, because, as I’ve been trying to say, it’s its own unique science. Something that I’ll possibly never be a journeyman at; even though I’ve written a book of it that I’m mildly proud of. You can always get better, especially when you’re not very good at it. Writing poetry? How I’ve explained it in a memo on my cell phone: “This is no different from clipping coupons.”

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