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Nothing in that spam queue

By Anselm Berrigan

It used to be the case that I’d type things up fairly quickly after getting them. Now I seem to want more distance between the accumulation of materials and their typing or arranging. I have a notebook recently completely filled (including several pages of drawings by my daughter, notes on various budgetary and job matters, and some odd accounting that seems to have come from elsewhere – the aliens are about money with me; I go into a trance to get free of outside influence, and inside influence, and influence) and the question at the moment is when to begin typing that up, followed by the question of how to begin typing that up. That is, what arrangement to work from in order to begin making a shape.

I occasionally start with a chronological arrangement when getting into any particular body of material, though I have also kept notebooks without dating entries and with a semi-random blank page-selection process. This recent completion is infected with dates so I may have to figure out how to get around them in order to get this stuff right. I have a “feeling” the material is unlike where I’ve been previously, but this is based on…..? Wishes, lies, dreams. The in of being in new time. One wishes to be detached and intimate among company. At any rate, there is no sample size at the moment, which is a slant on freedom from expectation. The question isn’t about order, anyway, it’s about finding an order to replace the first order, which is itself a recasting of perception whether the materials be generated externally or internally.

About the first thing I learned to do as a poet was get the line off the margin. I already knew how to use words that were in the air, on a sign, in a song, caught in someone’s throat, etc., mumbled in fine print, all them other webs. Spontaneity in that sense is heavily scripted and available – kid’s games often seem to me an amalgamation of classicisms and collage dosed by that mind or minds’ sensibility-in-formation. Dreams, without the neon lights pointing to vacancy. Speech balloons to white out and rewrite. It took years, though, for me to figure out that “Anselm is a cunt!” said very emphatically in the household when I was eight or nine wasn’t actually a reference to me, but part of a bawdy kids’ game played by adults, i.e.: all people can basically be categorized under “prick” or “cunt” (feel free to be self-defining in this regard).

This sentence in Wallace Stevens’ essay The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words struck a chord with me on some combination of airplane and BART train a few days ago: “I suppose that the present always appears to be an illogical complication.” The suppose/appears allitero-potty moment in there assuages the pressure on reality exerted by present as “illogical complication” just enough to let me make use of the sentence as an invisible epigraph to entering work. It’s my own tendency to discuss a mechanics of the writing operation while leaving the prepositional hooks into the writing checked at the literal door. I can’t take or do judgment these days when it comes to discussing the art. I have no idea what anyone is really talking about most of the time. None of that seems to get in the way.

Comments (4)

  • On December 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm Joshua wrote:

    While sweeping statements about poets’ character generate a lot of buzz, I like these moments of insight into craft and cognition. Thanks.

  • On December 15, 2009 at 1:05 am nico vassilakis wrote:

    nothing heady to say, but nice. i like this. how to approach and receed from the page, i suppose.

  • On December 15, 2009 at 2:18 am NEG wrote:

    AB, I like yr tags for this post.

    PS:

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  • On December 15, 2009 at 7:21 pm Marina Lazzara wrote:

    “About the first thing I learned to do as a poet was get the line off the margin.” I’m curios. Can you elaborate on this sentence. I mean, I’m so flush left it’s pathetic/poetic! Please share., I mean I have no idea really (ever) what you (or anyone) is talking (about)(as you write above) most of the time. We have common images, maybe (as in Bachelard’s the Poetics of Space (maybe)) Like mushroom networks. We’re linked but yet not. And none of the “not” seems to get in the way (of each other) unless it’s put inside systems like consumerism, competition, etc.

    My journal, like yours, like many, is also made up of similar stuffs. I recently was wondering if I should start using more numbers in my poetry, as my journal reflects as well as shopping lists, toddler sentences, my neighbors’ coughs through the walls. I edit too much. Maybe the representation of these scripts from my journal in a chronological order, no matter the numerical, alphabetical, symbolic order, is more true to the tasks of the Now muses, those who are in charge of the everyday scribbles…

    This may go back to your Reading posts. I mean do you really understand any poetry that you read? (you = one) I just feel it physically somehow (gloria’s dickinson. dickinson’s hole on top of her head.) and feel a part of something unknown (gloria’s spicer, spicer’s correspondence) or an ongoing dialogue in history. If so, are we somehow in the same place as we read as when we sculpt together things we really know nothing about?

    Get the Line Off the Margin: book title, choreography command, meditational advise, bumper sticker. poetics.

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Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, December 14th, 2009 by Anselm Berrigan.