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Write This Way

By Linh Dinh

A while back, I received an email soliciting a poem for a webzine I’d never heard of, but new journals sprout up all the time, some of them even good, and I almost always contribute when asked by an editor. After a week, however, she wrote that she could not print my piece because, well, she had an aversion to certain words. I told her, “Don’t worry about it,” but I was frankly annoyed since she obviously had never read my poetry. If she had, she would immediately see that I embrace every word in the English language, as many as my untrepanned skull can hold, that I freely mix high and low in the same reasonably-fragrant-yet-still-funky tub, that I believe there is the right place and time for every utterance. So here’s a friendly suggestion for editors: Don’t solicit poems from people you haven’t read. Is that too unreasonable? Also: Don’t dictate how a solicited piece is to be written. Poets aren’t advertising writers! I bring this up because a curator recently asked me, for chump change, $200, to write a 200-to-250-word essay, press release to “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm,” a group show opening on January 23 in Chelsea, Manhattan. “It would function as another art work in the exhibition, creating a loose narrative or atmosphere for the physical objects,” he explained. After I sent my piece, however, he responded, “I fear it may run antithetical to the exhibition, which explores interior and meditative states. It’s true that the world is falling apart and far from calm, but does it not make the desires expressed in Stevens’ poem even more urgent and necessary?” I told him to forget about it. To waste less time, I should learn how to say no more often. My short take on the Stevens:


Was is the operative word here, since this Stevens poem, published in 1947, has already become a period piece. Thanks to the increasing intrusion, to the point of madness, of the television then, even more insidiously, the computer, our houses are rarely quiet, calm or even a refuge anymore, with the virtual outside constantly disrupting our visual, sonic and psychological equilibriums. Reading itself has become less contemplative and more anxious, our eyes and mind flitting compulsively from one webpage to the next. We can barely get through a poem of any length before jumping to, say, a stock market quote, pornography or the latest, up to the minute sport scores. Since the house was quiet, Stevens extrapolated, ironically, that the world had to be calm, yet this observation was relatively valid, since a major war had just ended. Order had been restored and prosperity awaited, conditions that are the exact opposite to the great unraveling we’re experiencing now, a fact that is becoming more and more undeniable in spite of all the white noise. As our collective house implodes, many of us are being kicked out of our provisional homes. Obama, Obama, we’re braying, but there is no quiet, and there will be no calm.
……………..
The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm
Wallace Stevens
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoke as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Comments (34)

  • On December 9, 2008 at 10:39 am Mary Meriam wrote:

    A pleasure to read your short take. At least you could post it here, so all is not lost. I wish there were more short takes around like yours. The curator made a big mistake.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 11:15 am "noah freed" wrote:

    When you get hired to write something, you accept certain criteria: if I’m writing a review, I can hardly expect to use the space to attack the journal that’s hired me. You seem to think there’s some sort of juvenile notion of artistic freedom at stake here; there isn’t. Rather, using the generosity of the curator as a platform for your own political views is noxious & narcissistic. You could hardly sound more self-aggrandizing & petulant in this post if you complained that getting paid $250 for writing something is “chump change.” Oh, wait.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 11:51 am Monica Fambrough wrote:

    I like the piece on Stevens and agree it was a mistake for the curator to pass it up. That said, I think that when you agree to contribute to something, you are entering into an arrangement with the editor, and that you should be open to her or his suggestions. The editor shouldn’t suggest changes based on his or her personal preferences but rather on an effort with the writer to make the piece the best it can be, and there are times when audiences should be considered, depending on context.
    Too often lately I feel like I hear poets complaining that editors asked them to change something. Isn’t that in fact the role of an editor? Not just to make strict yay or nay decisions, but to try to help a writer shape his or her work so that it reaches its full potential? Even when a work is solicited, I feel that if the writer agrees to contribute, there should be some trust that the editor has the poet’s best interest in mind. But then again, perhaps too many inexperienced hands have taken up the reigns of editing, and so efforts to this effect are rarely taken up, and when they are, they are often misdirected.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:02 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Noah,
    I didn’t attack anyone. I was asked to respond to a poem, which I did. There was no other criteria. And since you’re quite free with your abuses, calling me “juvenile, noxious, narcissistic, self aggrandizing and petulant” within the space of a brief tantrum, I’d hate to read anything you’re asked to write. (It’s $200, by the way, not $250.) It’s not a secret that I use nearly every platform to express my political views, so people who don’t care for my style or substance shouldn’t solicit from me, just as I would never hire you to do anything.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm "noah freed" wrote:

    Monica OTM.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:26 pm Travis Nichols wrote:

    Maybe you’ve just never had a good editor, Linh. That might sound flippant, but it’s not meant to be.
    What is flippant: $200 for 250 words about Stevens! And you’re complaining!
    Also (mid-range flippancy): had you seen any of the art in the exhibit before you agreed to write the piece?

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:29 pm Angela G. wrote:

    I agree entirely with Linh. Poets aren’t advertising or propaganda writers. If an editor asks for a poem, they should read the writer first, just as poets are told time and time again by almost every conservative submission guideline under the sun, that they should first read the journals they submit to, to ensure their work is a “good fit.” If a curator asks a poet for piece of writing that will serve as an art object itself, he shouldn’t dictate what that writing will include or not include.
    If editors and curators want press release, advertising, or propaganda writers, go hire one. There are agencies that charge their clients thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for work like this. Hillary Clinton’s ghostwriter was hired a pretty penny to ghostwrite her autobiography.
    If an editor or curator is too cheap to pay the going rate for advertising copy, don’t ask a poet and assume you’re going to get the short order cook version of an objet d’art on the cheap.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Monica,
    I was approached by a man I knew nothing about, curating a show I haven’t seen, so I could only agree to respond most honestly and most interestingly, hopefully, to the poem he presented. Further, I could only write while drawing on my usual passions, insights, delusions and prejudices, that is, I could only perform like the poet I already was.
    Many years ago, I was commisioned by a newspaper to write a film review. Did they tell me what to say or distort my views in any way? No, although they did edit and cut a few passages. Did I freak out? No.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:42 pm Drew Gardner wrote:

    I’m guessing the editor wanted the piece to illustrate the poem’s first impression, and not interact w/ it, and I assume the art did this as well? What the editor misses and you get is the subtext of anxiety in the poem — it’ like a magic spell against anxiety /agitation which is clearly a subtext for it. The poem isn’t a Zen thing where it embodies calm/oneness, it’s a apotropaic lullaby – an interesting one.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm Former Berkeley Girl wrote:

    Oh dear, I’m lost again. What in the world is “Monica OTM”?

  • On December 9, 2008 at 12:56 pm Doodle wrote:

    “On The Money” or “On The Mark”. This term is often used in the seedier parts of the internet to show agreement with what has just been said. Variant: OTFM

  • On December 9, 2008 at 1:25 pm Henry Gould wrote:

    I agree with Mary Meriam’s comment. Both poem & Linh Dinh’s “take” are interesting. But I think this take/response is also a sort of period piece. The language of anxiety/turmoil/victimization/critique etc. is sort of the sanctioned style of the times.
    A lot of the “virtual” noise in homes is optional. Just turn it off.
    People can still experience calm nights of quiet reading and meditation, with books.
    Poetry can still celebrate or express states of meditative calm : & the aim may be more than defensive, apoptropaic. We have to imagine a calm world in order to find or create it.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm Monica Fambrough wrote:

    As I said before, I thought the curator was wrong to pass on the piece.
    My only disagreement is with the notion that editors should not be allowed to make suggestions with regard to solicited work. But I agree with the point that editors shouldn’t solicit work from writers they know nothing about.
    I personally wouldn’t agree to write something for someone I knew nothing about on a show I hadn’t seen if I considered the payment to be “chump change.”
    Generally speaking, though, I am curious about poets’ experiences with editors– it seems like at many presses and journals, the editor’s role is mainly to accept/reject, and not to work with the poets on the content. It seems like this is at least partly due to a dearth of talented editors, and not to an increase in the level of perfectly polished work being submitted. It sounds like in both cases here, there was a problem at the level of the editor not doing his or her job properly.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 2:22 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Monica,
    I agreed to write the piece because I wanted to comment on this Stevens poem. At the Harriet Blog, I was only paid for my first 30 posts, but I’ve continued to write for free up to this, my 59th post, since I value this community as well as the complete freedom this forum affords me.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm Angela G. wrote:

    There was a failing on the part of the editor and the curator in these instances to communicate clearly what they were asking for before the pieces were ever written. The first editor gave Linh no guidelines to follow and essentially said without saying, “Write what you like,” and then rejected it in whole because of the language used.
    The curator in the second example was dishonest with Linh in the statement of what he wanted. Linh followed those guidelines only to have the work rejected because the editor had other intentions for the piece, i.e., that it not be “antithetical” to the exhibit.. This is shoddy editing on the front end. Had Linh known in each instance what was expected, he would have been free at that point to say, no, I’m not interested in writing that.
    And $250 for 200 words isn’t exorbitant by any means. I’d like to know what the other pieces in the exhibit were going for. I’ll bet they were priced much much higher than $250. Was your piece going to be for sale to patrons also, Linh? And what would have been the percentage of the sale price you would have received?
    A quick call to the gallery about another piece for sale there — though not in the same exhibit — is $13,000. Chump change anyone?
    Or maybe a debate about how visual artists value and price their work as opposed to writers, who usually give it away for free?

  • On December 9, 2008 at 3:01 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Angela,
    You can’t sell a poem unless it’s a manuscript, unless there’s evidence of the hand. A printed poem is worth less than zero.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 4:27 pm cathy wrote:

    Hey Linh,
    I’m just curious–did the editor (the first one you mentioned) ask you to submit work for them to *consider* or did they just give you a blank check, as in submit any of your recent work and we’ll totally publish it? And did the first editor really have no idea about your work? I find that odd–why would she solicit a stranger’s poems? What’s the point of that?
    As editors (Evie Shockley, Rob Casper and I), we will find writers whose work we admire very much and ask them to submit work but we never guarantee that the work will be published (you know about our process since we will be publishing your poem!). At the other end of the relationship, I also assume that the editors always have a right to turn down a poem I submitted, even if they approached me first, since, well, sometimes my latest work is not what they had in mind, even though they are into my poetry overall. We always ask the poet turn in other work or work in the future because usually there’s a reason why we solicited their work. I could understand your frustration though. It’s a delicate balancing act!

  • On December 9, 2008 at 5:10 pm "noah freed" wrote:

    No editor — none, anywhere, anytime — would give anyone a blank check to submit just anything whatsoever. I can think of ten well-known poets with whom I’m acquainted off the top of my head who have had solicited work rejected. It takes a real ego to complain about it on the Poetry Foundation’s blog – almost as much as to complain about getting paid almost a dollar a word.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 5:23 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Cathy,
    The editor’s stated reason for not taking my poem told me she knew next to nothing about my work. She may have seen a poem or two of mine, or maybe she’s only heard about me, but if she objects to the use of profanities in poetry, she shouldn’t have approached me.

  • On December 9, 2008 at 8:02 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Noah,
    Why don’t you read what I actually wrote? I’m not asking for a blank check but complaining about 1) Editors approaching poets without having read their works. 2) A curator asking for a response to a poem, then rejecting it because he did not agree to what was written. As for the $200, which you seem so obsessive about, I characterize it as chump change to indicate that I did not write this piece for the money. I’ve written much prose for free, half of my the posts on the Harriet Blog, as well as articles on Dissident Voice, for example, so it’s not about the money, understand, but about the etiquette of approaching people to do anything. If you ask for scrambled eggs at a local diner, then reject them when they’re brought to your table, then it’s not the pissed off waitress who’s the problem, get it?

  • On December 10, 2008 at 9:42 am Matt wrote:

    “If an editor asks for a poem, they should read the writer first, just as poets are told time and time again by almost every conservative submission guideline under the sun, that they should first read the journals they submit to, to ensure their work is a “good fit.”"
    It isn’t just conservative journals who do this. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it anyway.

  • On December 10, 2008 at 10:53 am Joseph Hutchison wrote:

    See the highly relevant post by Bill Knott, the “friendly poet,” who expands on the question of artistic freedom—or the appearance of it….

  • On December 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm Daisy wrote:

    Hi Linh–
    Are you saying Wallace Stevens intended the connection between quiet house and calm world ironically, or is the irony in the mind of the reader (you)? Just curious. Sort of interesting to think about 1947 and the world growing calm, but America getting all paranoid and persecutory of its leftists, among other things, though I never feel particularly moved to read Stevens in a larger political contexts, at least as regards his own thinking & intentions.
    Sorry to hear about your troubles with editors. Nothing better than a good editor, but hard to deal with the ones who don’t know what they want and don’t realize that they don’t know. You should at least have gotten a kill fee for the Stevens piece.
    Daisy

  • On December 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Daisy,
    I’m suggesting that Stevens made an ironic leap from quiet house to calm world, since he knew full well that turmoils lay just outside his door. Consider “Contrary Theses (1)”:
    Now grapes are plush upon the vines.
    A soldier walks before my door.

    [...]
    The bareness of the house returns.
    An acid sunlight fills the halls.
    Before, before. Blood smears the oaks.
    A soldier stalks before my door.

    To highlight the precarious sanctity the house, Stevens brough an imaginary soldier right up to the door. The instances of calmness in Stevens’ poetry are often imbued with a sense of gratitude and amusement, as the narrator can hardly believe in his momentary good fortune, as if peace is a mere trick of the light:
    And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
    In which everything is meant for you
    And nothing need be explained.

    ["The Rabbit as King of the Ghost"]

  • On December 10, 2008 at 2:05 pm Henry Gould wrote:

    This is interresting, but again I have to take issue with your notion, Linh, that Stevens is making an “ironic (rabbit?) leap” in this poem, from quiet house to calm world. I think it’s closer to what Drew Gardner suggested about apotropaic magic – but again I don’t think Stevens’ attitude here is completely defensive.
    I think Stevens is playing on the ambiguity of “world”, for one thing. “The house was quiet and the world was calm” – it begins as a colloquial statement. “The world” here is not the globe, the world of contemporary history – it is, indeed, the world outside the speaker’s door.
    From that opening, you could say the poem moves in 2 directions at once : first, to express the fragility of that calm through the tenuous qualifications of the middle section
    (“as if…” and “wanted much most to be…” and “like a perfection…” – to which the line, “The house was quiet because it had to be” is, indeed, like Drew’s magic imperative, making it so.
    But Stevens continues by in a sense offering a supportive argument for that particular line. The house was quiet becuase, as he says, the quiet itself and the calm itself emerge from the reading of the book. The speaker is moving from the calm of his immediate environment to the calm of the perfection of thought, which he seeks in the book.
    The last two stanzas are a very subtle affirmation of this movement from existential calm to a kind of ideal, philosophical calm :
    “And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
    In which there is no other meaning, itself
    Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
    Is the reader leaning late and reading there.”
    “And the world was calm.” – we could take this as a sort of future-oriented, prophetic statement, since it seems to have no correlative in present-day actuality.
    “The truth in a calm world…” – let’s say what Stevens implies here is the we should equate “the truth”, in its wholeness, WITH a calm world : ie., a calm world is the actual aim and end of “the truth”. Truth = calm.
    This hypothesis (truth = calm) instigates the lyrical return to the actual summer & night, and to the reader – & so the poem comes full circle.
    The “major chord” of these last two stanzas encomapsses the “minor” tone of the phrase “in which there is no other meaning”. This phrase in a sense repeats the fragility of the conception as presented earlier, in the middle of the poem; but the phrase itself can be read two ways : first, ironically (implying that of course there are other, darker meanings to this calm0 – but also, on the other hand, it can be stating that, yes, the truth and the calm world have no other meaning except as a unity – sort of like the weddings of opposites Stevens explores elsewhere.
    So I think there is a kind of affirmation going on here ; of reading and (calm) lyric expression and “the world” or reality as bound together somehow.

  • On December 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi Henry,
    Without suggesting that a poem can be read any which way, it is entirely possible that yours, mine and Drew’s take on this much hashed over piece are all valid, if not to the same degree, of course, since, objectively seen by all sane observers, I must be more correct than you in all matters, rabbit light or no. Kidding aside, misreadings are not just annoying, actionable offenses but interesting portraits of the purblind and blindered commentators. From my vantage point, the atmosphere and sentiments evoked by this poem feel very distant and alien, hence my designation of it as a period piece, but it sounds like you’re living much closer to it.

  • On December 10, 2008 at 6:30 pm Henry Gould wrote:

    OK, you got me, Linh. Full disclosure : I’m a librarian.

  • On December 10, 2008 at 8:33 pm Brian Salchert wrote:

    It was on your blog, Linh, where I first read your response to the
    poem by Stevens. Some of what you wrote made me feel you
    had been tracking my online activities. I felt a need to comment
    but couldn’t decide what to say. Finally, here is what came to me:
    That’s right.
    As to the author/editor conundrum. Three times I was an editor.
    As an author I have had good to poor relationships with editors.
    The original version of my first book was the only one I ever
    published in the traditional way. That was late in 1972 when
    I was still teaching. I asked each of 5 or 6 colleagues to choose
    one poem she or he liked. Result? No poem was chosen twice.
    I didn’t stop submitting poems to periodicals, but I did begin to
    pull away. By 1980 I had established my own press, and all
    my books since then I have self-published. At this moment,
    other than around a dozen journals/diaries and one math tome,
    the bulk of my writings are online. My poetics centera on the
    artifact, not on a way of making. In the mid 1980s, while I was
    in a workshop mentored by Donald Justice, I sent four poems
    to a periodical in California. I mention this because of the
    surprise factor. All four were accepted. Why? Because they
    were so different from each other.
    Wallace Stevens, and similarly John Ashbery, have always
    seemed to me to be abstractionists, to be–for all their acute
    descriptions–ethereal. Understanding them seems beyond
    the point. They are magic carpet poets. The ride, the ride.
    Ah! the ride.

  • On December 11, 2008 at 9:54 am Bill Knott wrote:

    . . . thanks to Joseph Hutchison above for the referral to my blogpost,
    but alas via my technical ineptitude his “link” was lost, and my dummies guide to the net can’t figure out how to link anything to anything,
    though the post he mentions is on the “main” page of my blog now,
    if anyone’s interested——the original piece has been augmented with observations on the latest issue of the magazine called NO,
    and a cachinnatory postscript——

  • On December 12, 2008 at 1:40 pm david chirot wrote:

    Dear Linh & friends
    It is ironic and also humorous that a poem which seems to be an echo of the phrase of Mallarme that the world be realized as a book, and indeed a place of quiet, a state of calm, which may or not be shorn of the temptations of Matisse’s “Luxe, calme, volupte” (which in itself sounds much like Stevens)–
    It s ironic that such calmness initiates such storms—
    And humorously “illustrate” the phrase that the calm does indeed come before the storm–
    I think, as the cop says in Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate”–
    on the part of everyone involved–
    It evidences the “rush to judgment” by which so many decisions are made, in that how un/aware of Linh’s work the editor may have been, and that what the editor and poet, writer, journalist need to do hasn’t been done—
    -Which is to discuss during the realization of such projects what is actually being thought and being done, in order to make sure they are “on the same page” at least as concerns the boundaries allowed within the page—
    The focus so to speak trying to be achieved—which is that of the writer’s eye and words—within in such and such a parameter—
    Since the editor is directly connected with the show, of course they would prefer some sort of bland piece, riddled with the Jargon du jour in re “art” and maybe even “poetry and art—ars poetica-or the junctures of the picture and the poem—
    And how this particular exhibition is interesting and worth seeing with in the historical contexts of this—
    And if indeed there is any “real connection” between the poem and the paintings—or any questioning by the poem of the work shown or do the works evince some critique of the poem’s ideas and phrases—
    I wondered if there had been any conversation with the editor on the part of the writer top find out just what is the idea of the show, and why this poem was chosen, and how is this meant to be “saying something” at this particular moment in time—
    This is what i mean by rush to judgment
    The editor wants to impose–(though what is being imposed is unclear until the final NO)
    And the poet is trying to impose–
    their views and values and “sales pitches” on the audience with out it seems to me actually letting themselves really read the poem and wonder what it is about, which is indeed a state which commences with reading and the reader and the book
    And also it seems that the exhibition of paintings is left out in the cold–while this argument about the “world” is hatched
    I was for many years in Boston long ago a writer of film reviews, music reviews and interviews, book reviews and various here and there pieces–freelance and full time–
    and what i discovered was that often the editor has a view point in mind that he or she wants to be conveyed, as does of course the curator of a show, or the person running the movie theater, the person who wants such an such a book reviewed, let alone the wooing of the reviewer in many cases by record companies, film makers, author, publicists and the like
    So many people want so much from one, and in such a short space of words!!
    In a case such as this one–since the editor seems to have not given much to go on–
    One is free to really examine what this show is about
    That is, the relationship of the poem not only perhaps with our times as opposed to Steven’
    but really what is the relationship of the poem with the paintings shown, and what seems to be the point that is being conveyed –
    is it really the state of mind Stevens is arguing for as it were
    Or is in stead a kind of cheap way of dragging the unsuspecting viewer in to consider the works which may have no relation at all with the poem
    But instead be simply the pre fab kind of house which is prefabricated to be calm and etc and so gives the illusion that outside of the gated community, one may project also this image of calm and so reassure oneself that yes
    The world and my house is calm
    Yet isn’t Stevens speaking of the world as it exists in the mind and in art–
    a kind of calm of the unity in a sense of the trinity of the reader, reading, and the book–all joined–
    and so becoming in a state of “oneness” with the house and world of calm as an aesthetico-spiritual kind of experience?–
    And being a insurance man and involved with banks and etc
    How do these factors perhaps play into Stevens’ ideas of calm and quiet house and world–?
    And is what Stevens writes of exemplified in this show?
    Or is the show a refutation or dilution of these “high ideals”
    –Does this mean the exhibitors themselves have no real idea of what the hell they are doing but have merely seized at a passing fancy of a straw that seemed a good one to stir the martini with–
    as “cocktail conversation,” politely murmured in the gallery with lights dimmed and half starved would-be glamorous types swaying dangerously in the slightest breeze and nibbling on expensive catered sweets–?
    These may seem like “journalistic” questions, yet I think in order to respond to the poem in the specific context of an exhibition which is making “fore grounded” use of the poem as a guide, an entrée as it were into the ways the paintings may be thought about—
    One needs or wants to know what all is being proposed by the editor curator and how this works or not both in regard to the choice of the poem and to the choice of paintings
    Do these two arts indeed “compliment” each other in this case? Do they say—do the editor and curator intend to say—anything which is at all “really there” in the poem and exhibition?
    Or is just a fancy way of advertising paintings which may otherwise seem “merely artificial escapisms”—which charge indeed I have heard people level against Stevens, both in the 30’s and 40’s reading of these now, and also now, some being able to see in Stevens that use of formal detachment as a way to critique not the world but perceptions and “calm” of the world via the lens of language—
    Which indeed is the lens that a poet is focusing on these questions?
    Does the show in any way exemplify any of the questions Stevens’ poem poses—?
    As a poet, how does one examine the nature of the different lens being brought to these questions—the perceptual lens of poetic language and the lens of the eyes and visions, percep0tions and their expressions by the painters—
    All these ways of considering and wondering, questioning what indeed the show is “intended” to do or “supposed” to do—
    Do they indeed become realized in any way but what one finds in the poem and in the exhibition and in their interrelationships—
    Is there any thinking going on I this regard—vis-a-vis the ancient poetic questions re the interconnections of the poetic and the visual image—
    Or is the show indeed just a an attempt to market itself while being empty, denuded, of any questions and thoughts at alloy—
    But simply is “fronting” Stevens as a way to “make to seem more Auratic and profound” the art works—
    When one is asked to write something for an exhibition and its poem etc used to “define itself” in terms of “something one wants others to attend and see”—
    The writer needs to weigh it, “take its measure” so to speak–with a sense for the actual potential audiences as well as the ones who do show up
    Is this show in any way of interest?
    Is what it is attemtping something truly interesting and challenging etc
    Or is it really an exemplification of the more trendy ideas in some forms of contemporary poetry and also some aspects of the arts, that the uses of language are primarily meant to be an opacity, a kind of “man hole cover” for the lack of anything beneath them, any depth at al of a thought or image or sounds or rhythms, any form of expression at all—
    Well there are so many questions one might ask, and in these find much to write with—
    As it is the editor wants some form of basically what most blurbs are no matter for the most part who writes them and for what—
    Just a way of getting a “poet” to show that the use of a “poem” by a famous “poet” sheds gorgeous light on this “suggestive and challenging exhibition of formal values considered as an arena of clam in a world in which houses are being foreclosed and bombed and bulldozed assaulted not simply by the din of the media everywhere e prevalent but al so by the actual facts of invasion, Occupation, diseases running out of control, famine and sieges—“
    Etc etc etc . . .
    As it stands is there not a kind of very vague proposition out of an emptiness never taking on any real definition –coming from the editor, and then, from the poet, a kind of soapbox stand being taken, in which no question or examination is involved having to do with the specificities of this particular exhibition and its relation or not with this particular poem—
    In short, one is dealing with the effort to impose a very vague and shallow calm—ill-defined—wispy, if not indeed wishy washy
    And its counter effort, an attempt to say that the house and the world aren’t calm—and that the poem of Stevens is just an antique relic with no relevance to our times—
    This may seem like a lot of effort to make for such a small piece and what to me is not at al a paltry sum (I used to get paid five to ten dollars for a piece like this, this length and this kind of exhibition or film book music etc)—
    But without the asking of questions and without just head on confronting the editors and curators and what they are up to—
    How can one mount any critique?
    And if they are indeed really ignorant vis a vis the poetry especially, then as a poet one can really “go to town”
    One may write, it is done far more often than one may suppose—a very critical and provocative piece which does not al advertise a show and its poem-front—
    But instead offers the reader of the piece a chance to “open their eyes and minds” in employing a much more critical and questioning approach to –basically everything!—but at least to the shows which attempt to elide poetry and images, paintings and present some essay of presenting this “state of calm” in house and world
    Emily Dickinson noted that Nature is a Haunted House, and Art is one that tries to be Haunted—
    Does then this show and it conjunction with the poem produce or emanate, reveal, discover or simply fog over or ignore—the making of a trying to be haunted?
    And also what is the exhibition about? Did the writer look at the exhibit, or rush to judgement based on the poem
    Ironically–the poem is about reading and the reader–
    and it seems in the rush no one is reading but instead rushing
    For example the Stevens poem doesn’t necessarily mean he is writing about 1947 at all
    the situation of reader and reading and the book –and an attainment of an aesthetic plane of clam–
    may be realized anywhere at any time
    (i know from experience as it has happened to me even inside the insanity of the security ward in Milwaukee, with raving souls and guards, layers of barred windows and the constant wild oscillations of moods and atmospheres which become physical as the persons experiencing these becoming missiles launched by those forces which posses them-
    and i sat in a barred room reading a torn copy of Villon in French and looking through the layering’s of bars and screens saw suddenly the light of a late afternoon hit and begin to drench the rising tower of the Jesu Church–and as the light turned to gold it melted away everything into some other sphere of calm and peace–and the prison is outside oneself, not with in–
    to attain such a clam–does not mean one is isolated from what is around one, but that instead one sees it very much clearer–as the blinders of the passions which surge red before the eyes are washed away and with them the psychoses of rage–and one sees, calmly–that things are different from what one’s own imprisoning of the eyes has forbidden on to see
    And then–from a distance, the situation is much more lucidly the horror than ever before and also much more shot through with the emerging of things from out of the shadowed chaotic smudged and muddy walls and streets–the writings hidden in plain site/sight/cite–)
    (the Jesu was not “strange” as it fit right in with the Villon poems–as a material chunk of the reality at hand–as well as having if one so wished it to have a symbolical value, and at the same time this is not necessary–)
    My point is an editor with little idea of the poet’s work (or is this true?) is arguing with the viewpoint of a poet who is not responding perhaps at al to the exhibition, but to a very narrow reading of the poem—and from there imposing a kind of habitual Pavlovian response of their own—
    I’ve thought of this a lot lately as I think that the sheer speed of the internet and the ability to respond swiftly—
    Has sometimes made my own responses indeed a rush to judgment without much real thought, resorting to my own particular Chimeras for a swift and sudden “counter attack” often out of a proportion and out of most of the bounds which one is essaying to respond to—
    So instead began to simply write things and then not send them until one had taken more time to really consider one’s response and in relation to what is being proposed, the context of the questions one is trying to raise in relation to the idiocy or deceptions or sophistries that one thinks at first one has observed so glaringly parading about like so many Emperors in new clothes
    Am I myself imposing some idea and language of mine which has not really taken into consideration seriously enough what its I Have I really “attended to and with”–listened to and with–the poem and the paintings– am responding to
    Is it really worth the time and effort involved—is one simply laying out far too much a picnic—giving away much and receiving next to nothing in return?
    I understand very well Linh’s impulse to quickly impose his contribution’s ideas on to the piece he is being asked for—as I know certain obsessive issues and concerns of my own re the “world” tend to make themselves known and appear often n places and pieces in which they do have a part and at the same time are being forcibly dragged in and imposed rather than being a part of the over al examination of things at hand
    If one wants subvert things, then one needs to attend to them as each case comes along, and find the ways that what one is attempting to subvert manifest themselves in this particular even and what is being asked for, the type of exhibition, al the questions above—one looks for the ways to subvert and “break open” the case by means of an examination of the “facts at hand, the evidences, the claims to intention by the editors and curators” et alia—and how do these exemplify some of the aspects of things which one wants to subvert or critique—
    As it stands, one knows nothing at al of the exhibition, and one is receiving but one version of reading this poem which demands reading –as it is concerned with the acts of the reader reading the book and “becoming book” as Deleuze and Guattari might say—
    And this state—does go back I think to some aspects and quotes from Mallarme—
    And also that from Matisse re “luxe, calme, volupte”
    Yet i would have to examine this as don’t know much about Stevens’ influences or if he could red French etc—
    Still they are ideas which “took hold” and to this day have an immense influence—
    (Mallarme’s—in particular I am thinking of as I know his work much better—and also Matisse’s–)
    Perhaps this does seem really too much to bring to bear on such a seemingly unimportant in the scheme of things show—
    Yet if one carries enough in one’s head, these things are ready to hand—
    And I realize that much of what I have written may seem more like writing a review than a response
    Bu I am not
    The fundamental thing I want to convey is that one begins with questions, questionings, and not beginning immediately with one’s own assumptions which of course run counter often enough to those of an editor or curator
    Yet still a poet may make a critique and at the same time create their own excellent entree for use in taking in to question al aspects of the poem and exhibition—
    Then one is opening the way to questioning and investigation observation and “attending/listening too” not only the voices of persons and poems but also of the works themselves—and of the poem—past one’s own and those of the editors and curators—
    Layerings of one’s own and the editor and curators’ own barred windows and essay to examine what it is in the movements concealed beneath these immediate rushes to judgments and ideologies of perception—
    What it is that “comes to light” in the events and its constructions
    That may be excellent to think of in fact just in relation with the outside world of things and events and persons not calm at all—
    What it is of the outside’s non-calm that is actually perhaps visible even when an effort may be being made to conceal this and make one think one is establishing a “Security of the Homeland” instead of denying the poem and the works to “speak for themselves” in relation with the world outside as well as establishing a calm not of the “homeland” but of an aesthetico-poetic kind, one which does indeed follow the Mallarmean dictum of the world finding its realization in a book
    Then one may by extension ask—what is that produces the longing for such “calm”—is it an escapism—a divergence? A denial?—a sign of blindness and deafness to the world, to the poem and to the paintings in the name of simply exalting once again the “disinterestedness, the pure form “ of Art and Poetry, which are not calm because they are a calm as like unto the eye of the Hurricane, nor a calm before or after a storm, but a calm which proposes to be as it were, “Above and Beyond” in its realization of the world, that of the actual world which it is transcending—
    Is this not perhaps a form of subtle propaganda—or is simply and innocent desire
    And what indeed are the claims of formalism in these times—
    In relation to that which is actually taking place—?
    Is it a case of “bad faith”—arrogance, ignorance, ennui—decadence—self centeredness—und so weiter–
    Is it not a major part of this culture now not to ask too many questions–?
    Not to question the authorities no matter who they are and of what they are supposed to be the authorities of?
    Did the editor perhaps think that simply quoting from Stevens would render any kind of questioning null and void even from a poet?
    And does the poet think that by noting how the world of 1947 USA is perhaps a calm one or at least possible for Stevens to think is calm—
    And that this being
    NOT a kind of calm existing today
    Is immediately a dismissal of the poem—the poet—the show—
    Instead of following the poem it self’s focusing on reading—reader-book—
    In this sense one needs to examine oneself in relation with reading—if one is reading at all—or just speed reading, skimming, “due to the high speed distracting mediated environment”—and so just leaping at catchwords an phrases and seizing upon these alone as the genesis of a critique—
    When in fact the piece itself may turn out to be if read carefully in actuality a critique of this very lack of critique and th8inking in relation with reading, reader and book—
    In a sense so many things follow the examples of the “Shock Doctrine” of Naomi Klein’s brilliant book—that is, to create an immediate “shock and awe’ and while the persons are dislocated who experience this, move in on them and take over as much as one as fast as one can in the limbo period of shock and awe, before it begins to wear off—
    And perhaps this shock and awe effect is used very much more than one realizes I the forms of email and list communications—in al the kinds of propaganda blasting about the wires and webs and cables—the disinformation deluging one into thinking things not true at all yet repeated so many times, as Goebbels said that they do indeed become “truths”—
    So that more and more of the world and of writing is unnoticed unread, while al the while thought to be being ever more “exposed”—
    Which is to say—one is being hoodwinked continually—
    And by one’s own self—
    As an unquestioning consumer of al these disinformations and deluges of diversions—
    How much of the contemporary languages of the arts and poetry in fact is not at al critical of any of the establishments they purport to be, but instead the steadfast upholders of the very status quo they think to be subverting—
    I think that Linh is moving in that direction—
    Which is one as always that has much further and deeper to be gone into—
    Otherwise, believing in so simple a word as “change” one begins to think that in fact there is a real change—
    But what kind of change? That a Black President is solid supporter of Apartheid—or that we assume that the discourses of the day will become more open
    Might not things be becoming instead more closed, but just a different set of persons closing the doors–—?
    And how might a Stevens poem as used in the context of the show be “a sign” of this—
    That language itself is turning against those who use it–?
    Or that in using language itself is being turned against—
    And being turned instead to a continual state of propaganda, of advertisement and a means not to communicate but simply to control—
    And this being the case—or not—how much then of one’s own thoughts are being as it were prefabricated for one without one’s realizing it—
    How much of the calm House and World or the calm House in the uncalm World—just tropes being replayed endlessly so that one takes them indeed “at their word”/–
    Rather than questioning, reading—in a different way than that which is being written—
    To find not simply the inner contradictions of what is written but also to find that which much greater in size, like the concealed ice berg’s immense girths below the surface of the waters—
    That is—the unwritten which the written tries to mask and duct tape into silence—
    The torture victim trying like the figure of Artaud’s actor to signal through the flames and not be one simply dabbling in and with forms—
    The basement torture chamber beneath famous literary salon in Chile, which in turn “surfaces” in Roberto Bolano’s By Night in Chile-
    And now is being considered for becoming a national Museum of the Pinochet years, of literary salons where glitterati and literati big and small danced the night away
    While in the basement were the stifled screams of those actors
    Signaling through the flames
    Since this is a nation now of torture and promoting torture world wide, one of genociding enemies and supporting the world’s largest prison population and the world’s largest prison under siege for Apartheid purposes—
    Is it not possible that below al these things there does exist this unwritten untold language which is being concealed and Walled out
    In order that he battle over form s may continue above ground—
    Is this perhaps the point of view—that of the above ground and above the world-=-that the show is supposed to be promoting?
    In formal terms, in terms of deliberate misreadings of the poem?
    You see, the questions once begun—!—-
    Keep on moving—farther and deeper—into these forms and surfaces, these opacities which are transparencies and transparencies which are opacities—towards—the “underground basements”—
    Of language and poetry themselves–
    Those milieus where “Everything is changed so that nothing is changed.”
    Which are al around one, hidden in plain site/sight/cite—
    If one begins to question-
    Which I think in part is what Linh was doing yet—
    At the same lingering among those methods which impose
    Rather than expose
    As Celan wrote (in French) “Poetry no longer imposes it self but exposes itself”
    Yet—does not one find for the very greater part as ever the imposing—
    While the exposing goes unnoticed—
    And thus a piece for this show could operate as at once a poem and an expose—
    Which scraping away the dross of the language being employed finds beneath it that exposure of that which is the actual event rather than one presumed to be the event—

  • On December 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm Henry Gould wrote:

    Yes, since everything is connected with everything else, and we are all involved with one another in a moral web of complicity and mutual responsibility, then the questions of implication and meaning are endless, the ambiguities everywhere… a poem means whatever associations can be derived from it…
    and yet, I would like to defend the poet’s right to make something which means something unique and IN PARTICULAR. That the meaning an artist bestows on the work of art is first of all the artist’s own meaning & intention.
    So there is a meaning or set of meanings, or sensations, or effects, which the poet was striving to create – and we should first of all have the generosity to allow the artwork’s, and the artist’s, own space of meaning(s).
    And so when we as readers or critics discover new implications or meanings – in changed times or circumstances – we would still balance those new implications against the “made world” of the poet’s intention : the meaning(s) of the poem which we faithfully derive from the poet’s intent.
    I know this isn’t a popular position these days. These days, there is much faith in Universal Critique and 20-20 Hindsight Moral Judgement, which allows the contemporary critic to make whatever soup he or she likes out of the ingredients provided b the original artwork.

  • On December 12, 2008 at 3:08 pm Linh Dinh wrote:

    Hi David,
    If I ask you to respond to a poem so that “it would function as another art work in the exhibition, creating a loose narrative or atmosphere for the physical objects,” I cannot begin to assume what you might write, even if I know well all of your opinions and tendencies, a sheer impossibility, of course. (“Should I have realized all your memories,–should I be the one who can bind you hand and foot,–I shall strangle you”–Rimbaud.) This uncertainty we call creativity. Hell, you are likely to respond differently on an empty instead of a full stomach, one instead of two beers, if it were overcast instead of sunny. Whatever. Just to clarify, I’ve worked with dozens of editors–in two languages, English and Vietnamese. Most of these are very competent individuals who know how to articulate what they want, who know how to phrase a question or a proposal. Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Two recent examples: Motoyuki Shibata of Monkey Business, a Japanese literary journal, asked me for a 200 to 1,000-word piece on my “favorite literary boy and girl.” There was no payment, but I happily contributed, since I liked the idea. Then Harold Jaffe of Fiction International, asked me to send a piece addressing, in brief, “to what extent should Hannah Arendt’s “inner emigration” admonition apply to writers and artists in 2008,” confronted, as we are, “with wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and potential US (and other “First World”) involvement in Pakistan, Iran, Georgia, South America and elsewhere; with the tragic effects of global warming every day more evident; with the national economy in collapse mode.”

  • On December 15, 2008 at 10:49 am unreliable narrator wrote:

    Having written more than a film review or two (more in the neighborhood of over a thousand), I would summarize your solicited-copy incident as: unfortunate. Curator wasn’t crystalline about what he needed (although “press release” tells me quite a bit—again, only after a decade of freelancing); and, no way would I ever, as a writer who likes to be rehired, have written anything without seeing some of the artwork and/or reading up on the artists. For a buck a word, I’d expect myself to do a little research/legwork (though for Manhattan that’s probably not expansive a wage as it would be in, say, Phoenix, where I’d be lucky to get 10¢ a word). Certainly I get it that you weren’t told to do such research, nor that then tailoring your piece to it should be part of the process. And, as a pen-for-hire, I do assume that I’m expected to know/guess/figure out industry standards on my own.
    Thinking from the mainstream (which working for others often obliges me to do), I wouldn’t even have to know the poem in order to a) hear what the title in (its admittedly tragic) isolation is telling me, and b) guess what the curator is thinking. He’s thinking: limpid discrete singular objects speaking of peace and domesticity and interiority, with track lighting. We may consider it a dumb reading of the poem but that’s obviously how he’s reading it, and frankly it was obvious to me from your first paragraph. But again, I’ve waded through tens of thousands of press releases and been asked to summarize them, on deadline, for arts pages in newspapers and journals, without augmenting them (other than to add a cute snarky headline or passing quip). So I’ve spent enough time as a copy whore to know instantly what your curator was really asking you to do.
    Basically, there was an unspoken contractual obligation. Because it went unspoken, you didn’t know about it; and if you had known about it, very likely you wouldn’t have agreed to do the work, given that your prodigious talents (I’ve been loving The Lower Half, just as one appreciative example) lie, as you already know, “altogether elsewhere.” And it remains up to the writers to know for whom we’re working—not up to the editor to know from whom they’re soliciting. Probably it will make you happier to say no to work that will compromise your writing in a way you’re not willing to have it be compromised; I equivocate so fussily because any public writing invariably splits the difference somehow. But it’s just that there are degrees of sullying. Some we can stand, some are intolerable. E.g., I don’t freelance anymore.

  • On December 15, 2008 at 1:47 pm david chirot wrote:

    Dear Linh
    I think you misunderstand what I am writing of.
    For eons now, over a decade, I’ve been contributing tons of free pieces i was asked for, on al kinds of topics.
    I thought the challenges of this might help me learn more of writing in some way–
    Some persons asking for pieces–were clear, some unclear, some confused, yet always if one asked a simple question or two or had a brief exchange on what was actually in the person’s mind, then one either went on and did what one wanted to convey of information and ideas, background or comments etc–or simply said–No.
    Clearly this person was asking you for something a bit frothy, fluffy–and you presented them instead with a soap box oration.
    Which is perfectly fine–
    but what gets literally LOST SIGHT OF in all this brouhaha is that the visual works, objects,m in the show–
    remain invisible.
    That invisibility is an unseen “non-picture” over which a thousand words are speaking to audiences who are “unpresent” “Non–veiwers” of the invisiblity of the art, and instead are readers of the words which are “worth a thousand words” as reflections of the observations of the words of writer which are not concerned with observing, but simply with expounding on “the writer’s observations on his own reflections.”
    The editor, whose vagueness seems to be asking vaguely for a like vaguess,as vaguesness is a way of “embracing with out touching,” and speaking as to say as next to nothing as possible–
    yet to indeed present that term so often found in reviews–of the visual arts and cinema, video–”atmospheric”–
    Ironically, the situation is comically like a great many incidents –”real” and fictional-in literary history, in which a writer whose work has been rejected, turns the rejection into an open forum, and so finds the applause not received from the ignorant editor. coming to him in blessed warm waves of balm for the wounds, from his fellow indignant and sympathetic writers.
    There are many ways this situation is already suggesting story lines and points for essays!!
    Could one not imagine a “new form” of “Conceptual Writing,” in which a writer deliiberartely provides the solictiing editors with works that the writes knows will be rejected?–
    And that this “New Conceptual Writing of Deliberate Rejection” will function as the “unpublished” “observations” on an “unseen, invisible ” visual art works exhibition?
    Since this would “actually” constitute an unpublished work on invisible works of arts–
    the unpublished piece itself, as a “rejected work” also “unseen” in that is “unread” by any readers other than author and editor–
    Does this not mean that the “rejected” piece in order to remain “rejected’ must not “appear in print”
    But instead–provide the basis for the “observations” of the rejected writer on the rejection of his unpublished writings on the unseen visual works–
    since the “only way to make known one’s non-print appearance is to make observations about its invisibility in public”–
    and in this way , doubles the invisiblity of the visual works not only as invisible in the rejected non appearing work of writing unpublished and unread,
    but also now again invisible a second time by being deluged by the expositions of the observations of the writer not on visuality but on the non appearance of his works
    Which are now substituted for by this soliciting of acclaim to the announcement of the rejection–?
    And so indeed, the triumph, finally, in words, of the writers observations not of visual arts, but of those arts which appear in his own words, for the “observation and witnessing” of the readers–
    Dear Linh
    I think you misunderstand what I am writing of.
    For eons now, over a decade, I’ve been contributing tons of fee pieces i was asked for, on al kinds of topics.
    Some persons were clear, some unclear, some confused, yet always if one asked a simple question or two or had a brief exchange on what was actually in the person’s mind, then on either went on and did what one wanted to convey of information and ideas, background or comments etc–or simply said–No.
    Clearly this person was asking you for something a bit frothy, fluffy–and you presented them instead with a soap box oration.
    Which is perfectly fine–
    But what gets literally LOST SIGHT OF in all this brouhaha is that the visual works, objects in the show–
    remain invisible.
    That invisibility is an unseen “non-picture” over which a thousand words are speaking to audiences who are “unpresent” “Non-viewers” of the invisibility of the art, and instead are readers of the words which are “worth a thousand words” as reflections of the observations of the words of writer which are not concerned with observing, but simply with expounding on “the writer’s observations on his own reflections.”
    The editor, whose vagueness seems to be asking vaguely for a like vagueness, as vagueness is a way of “embracing with out touching,” and speaking as to say as next to nothing as possible—
    (which is what Samuel Beckett found the French language was the best at accomplishing, and so chose to write in it–)
    Yet to indeed present that term so often found in reviews–of the visual arts and cinema, video–”atmospheric”–
    Ironically, the situation is comically like a great many incidents –”real” and fictional-in literary history, in which a writer whose work has been rejected, turns the rejection into an open forum, and so finds the applause not received from the ignorant editor. coming to him in blessed warm waves of balm for the wounds, from his fellow indignant and sympathetic writers.
    There are many ways this situation is already suggesting story lines and points for essays!!
    Could one not imagine a “new form” of “Conceptual Writing,” in which a writer deliberately provides the soliciting editors with works that the writes knows will be rejected?–
    And that this “New Conceptual Writing of Deliberate Rejection” will function as the “unpublished” “observations” on an “unseen, invisible” visual art works exhibition?
    Since this would “actually” constitute an unpublished work on invisible works of arts–
    the unpublished piece itself, as a “rejected work” also “unseen” in that is “unread” by any readers other than author and editor–
    Does this not mean that the “rejected” piece in order to remain “rejected’ must not “appear in print”
    But instead–provide the basis for the “observations” of the rejected writer on the rejection of his unpublished writings on the unseen visual works–
    since the “only way to make known one’s non-print appearance is to make observations about its invisibility in public”–
    and in this way , doubles the invisibility of the visual works not only as invisible in the rejected non appearing work of writing unpublished and unread,
    but also now again invisible a second time by being deluged by the expositions of the observations of the writer not on visuality but on the non appearance of his works
    Which are now substituted for by this soliciting of support to the announcement of the rejection–?
    And so indeed, the triumph, finally, in words, of the writer’s observations not of visual arts, but of those arts which appear in his own words, for the “observation and witnessing” of the readers—
    As the observing and witnessing of the rejection of his works becoming
    indeed “these sharings of observations on the blindness of an editor who asks one to write regarding visual works and is displeased and rejects the writing when it is observations are not of the works but of the author’s own observations of his observations on “scenes” regarding the datedness of the written work—the poem—accompanying the exhibition– as being of far more import—
    And who indeed can argue with the poet who would rather write regarding a dated canonical poem by a dated canonical poet and period in time—cast always now in the golden auras of “The Greatest Generation”–
    And so it is that the poet presents the case for the rejected piece in terms of blindness of the editor to the poet’s work and himself, while at the same being blind to the visual works himself—
    And so the ultimate confrontation that poet conveys is not simply with the editor, but with poem chosen, and in this way may do battle with the old rumbling Canon Poet and Poem—
    And effectively “cut them down to size a bit”– send them off to some dusty corner where they are at least visible, unlike the invisible art works–
    Perhaps then are not “observations” turned into “reflections”—of the writer’s own observations—
    So as to better observe the reflection of one’s self—
    As a Projection outward—
    In which the blindness of the rejecting editor is ‘reflected” in the blindness to the works of art–
    And beneath al the hoopla re editors and poems and poets and publishing and –
    And al the babbling improvisatory make believe cooked up by this writer—(m. chirot)–
    Beneath it al is not this simply a matter of the hurt which is expressed in the word –“rejection”—
    And is not the hurt enough in itself—
    To confront and examine
    Something other and deeper and worth far more than –
    Than sadnesses infinite betrayed perhaps—
    Of
    Blindnesses—
    Calling out for light which is not made of reflections–?
    Are there not depths deeper into which one may go—
    To plumb the lines—
    of these rejections and blindnesses—
    the unwritten of the invisible
    which yet remains—
    Hanging in the air–


Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 by Linh Dinh.