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What I Learned Blogging for Harriet (after Alan Gilbert)

By Forrest Gander

That in response to postings, a lot of people prefer to send back channel emails than to publish their comments on site.
That one criterion for death is the failure to communicate or respond.
That I generally like poetry ridden hard and put up wet.
That some poets are a lot more interesting in their poetry than they are in their commentaries.
That as usual, Oppen speaks for me when he says “I think of literature not as a part of the entertainment industry, but as a process of thought.”


That I couldn’t quite separate the notion of essay or review from blog, which made it difficult for me to write eight a month, especially as job obligations intensified.
That it felt great to have a place to champion poetry to a diverse community of readers.
That I wanted to interact more with the other bloggers than I was able and so suggest we all fall together in Chicago, first drink on me.
That the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass every day.
That I loved Rusty Morrison’s The True Keeps Calm Biding Its Story from Ahsahta Press: “A skirtful of fresh pears rolling onto the lawn and into the stealth of narrative please.”
That Rilke writes to his Polish translator (regarding Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, just released by Dalkey Archives in a new translation by Burton Pike), that Malte “searched for a demonstration in the visible of the event that had become invisible within us.”
And that Rilke writes (contra Aristotle) of Malte: “He was a poet and hated the approximate….”
That as far as poet’s prose goes, Carol Moldaw’s The Widening is memorably sharp, poignant, searing in its revelations of the agony of youthful sexuality and misfiring relationships.
That it was the radical Nietzsche who called himself a “teacher of slow reading.”
That if our brains are being rewired by our interaction with technology, that if our attention spans are diminishing or subdividing to host multiple, simultaneous channels of information, that if the paradigm for intellection and imagination is dramatically shifting its modality from text to image, that if our cultural productions are narrowing into so many variations on spectacle, poetry’s delivery systems will change, but its collaboration with silence will continue to offer a transformative summons.
That if it were phrased differently, I would not be clobbered by the line “All these things will not touch you again.”
That I’m grateful POETRY has set the table for a conversation to which all of us genially have been invited.

Comments (7)

  • On December 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm Linda Lee Harper wrote:

    I’m so happy I found this discussion. Since I heard you in South Carolina (Forrest) talk about eco-poetry and the essentiality of American poets opening their eyes to their own, hermetic perspectives which often preclude writers outside our own language circle, I’m seeking out foreign writers. Thanks for helping me to see more, and also not to quite so willingly accept all translations as necessarily the best just because they made it into print. As a reader with limited foreign language facility, this was a wake-up call that I need to hone, at the least, my rickety Spanish skills and dive in myself, even at this late stage of the game. Anybody else have this happen to you? Cheers, Linda Lee Harper

  • On December 1, 2008 at 10:46 pm Brian Salchert wrote:

    Thank you for these inside perspectives.

  • On December 2, 2008 at 7:01 am Tim Kahl wrote:

    That as usual, Oppen speaks for me when he says “I think of literature not as a part of the entertainment industry, but as a process of thought.”
    I hope that you and Oppen are right, but I fear you are not. In any case, could there be room for both at once? But if,
    our brains are being rewired by our interaction with technology, that if our attention spans are diminishing or subdividing to host multiple, simultaneous channels of information, that if the paradigm for intellection and imagination is dramatically shifting its modality from text to image, that if our cultural productions are narrowing into so many variations on spectacle, poetry’s delivery systems will change, but its collaboration with silence will continue to offer a transformative summons.
    won’t the contemplative space that is cordoned off be riddled with the white noise of our lives’ detritus or will it be                   ? How must this space be rendered in public? Or is it meant only for our own private internet?

  • On December 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm Cathy Park Hong wrote:

    Dear Forrest,
    Wait, does this mean this is the tail-end of your posts? I loved your reviews. They really introduced me to books that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
    Cathy

  • On December 5, 2008 at 1:24 am Eric Bourland wrote:

    >>>>That some poets are a lot more interesting in their poetry than they are in their commentaries.
    Word.

  • On December 5, 2008 at 6:38 am Mairead wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post, and all your others. That “collaboration with silence,” I think, is not threatened but deepened by the conversation each reader-writer is able to have with words like yours, which inform and augment us like the poetry they discuss.

  • On December 5, 2008 at 7:06 pm Steve wrote:

    I learned that I liked reading Forrest. No, wait, I knew that already!
    I liked all those propositions except… for the one that echoes oppen Oppen: I’m more and more out of sympathy with the division he claims to find between the seriousness of poetry as he wanted to practice it and the not-seriousness of the things he wanted to banish from it. Niedecker and Neruda and O’Hara (and Hank Williams Sr) all knew better. I now think that poetry isn’t not-entertainment, but rather never-only-entertainment, just as it’s never-only-information: it’s language-that-does-something-else. (Whatever it does, it always does something else.)
    Of course, you may only mean that poetry can’t be part of an industry. There I’d want to know what “industry” means. (Some poets are industrious, some not: whatever works.)


Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 by Forrest Gander.