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Journal, Day One

By Olena Kalytiak Davis

dear reader—
dear void—
dear reader devoid
of anything better
to do…

i.e. “who’s there?”
“stand and unfold yourself”

and how did you come/get here? of all the books and all the links and all the walks you could take? well, or, okay, so nobody’s here.

so what. i’m used to it. i’m a working poet!

i guess because i agreed to do this i’ve been thinking (well, actually just walked over to skate at westchester lagoon and thought, i.e. not long enough) about audience/readership, knowing who(m?) (not even that!) and therefore how/what to address, i mean, here, and thinking how mostly it’s a non-issue for me when i write poems, ur, um, ahem, while at the same time realizing/knowing maybe it is really the only issue: how each poem begins (or pre-begins) or ends (or ends in beginning) with a feeling around to find out what needs to be addressed and what to use for it and where it is gonna try and go and where will it does it or doesn’t it stop, which i think is the defining of some kind of “i” and thus, “you”, and thus “i” (yes, i skated in circles!). and how even as hamlet separates himself from the players in his life/on his stage to deliver each of the soliloquies (“i’ll be with you straight”; “go a little before”; “now i am alone” (exeunt all but hamlet) ) he is making himself more available for greater immediacy and intimacy, for/to the “real” “players”: himself and us. “i” and “you”….

did “you” see the aristocrats? it so reminded me of the “poetry world” (and the world of poetry). isn’t it exactly what we are doing? retelling the same existential “joke”, so many versions/variations on the same theme, mostly for the sheer pleasure and pain of it, mostly for ourselves and others employed in the same profession/manner? let the philistines (also just saw the squid and the whale) eavesdrop: they will think it is funny/sad/good/bad laugh cry for all the wrong reasons. (or are they the right ones?) and we will be secretly disclosing great and hideous truths about ourselves and our fellow….poets? so insert “dirty” transgressive aggressive post-neo-confessional disclosure/discourse here, OR DON”T, great attention to wording to timing to breath, OR NOT, bring the usual tricks, mess with the usual tricks, stay inside the joke by leaving the joke, insert subtle allusions/nods to shakespeare, chaucer, herbert, donne, hopkins, dickinson, whitman, moore, wcw, lowell, bishop, plath, creeley, berrigan, and insert your personal poetry friends here. the actual content almost doesn’t matter! voila! (i originally typed: viola!) (and that, too, is part of the joke..) (what isn’t?)
punch line: and, um, what do you call it?
poetry!

which reminds me of my friend w.c. recently saying after attending a marathon reading that he wanted to put all poets on a airplane and crash it while remembering/reciting/(and (re-?maybe just-)minding me) of cid corman’s poem:

There is only
one poem.

This is it.

which reminds me of (“my friend”) harold bloom saying: a strong poet can only read “his” own work.

which leads me to cate’s remark about everyone having to have “a” tradition, and thinking my work based on not really being able to find a one…. but maybe, the anxiety of influence, that there must be a profound and complex act of misreading (but does it have to be of poetry texts?) and that “that reading is likely to be idiosyncratic and it is almost certain to be AMBIVALENT…”

so ambivalent. so thinking poetry does not cannot sustain me.

in response to which my friend m.w. writes, nor him, But then from nowhere I’m knocked down to my knees before the goddess herself. Or a good poet is also a good person, and I’m restored.

what are other sources of poetic “authority”?

also read here:

There are no two things as important to us in life as being threatened and being saved.

and then about bob woodruff, a oldlawschooolmateandcrush of mine, being hit by a roadside bomb in iraq.

my usual anxieties:money/poverty,
…of influence,
my face
PALE.

reader, (admit it!) i’m lost.

thank god poems don’t have deadlines.

it’s zero degrees. or should that be degree? no degrees. none.

dear reader, bright absentee, help me out here. what are you thinking?

what do you want
to say?
to know?

i live at 1403 N Street
& mostly write from here, o.


Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, January 30th, 2006 by Olena Kalytiak Davis.