THAT WHICH I SHOULD HAVE DONE I DID NOT DO
"already i missed not working and felt the death loneliness that comes at the end of everyday that is wasted in your life..."
that's hemingway. something i transcribed onto a scrap of paper years ago--a scrap that always turns up--and almost always turns up true.
what we have/had here in anchorage, alaska was/is a very very very snowy weekend without kids. still, to figure out from where to work--what a difficult thing. i wanted to write a bauhaus poem, but i did not. i wanted to write an adding machine. i wanted to flip a lightswitch. i wanted to write a poem in my winter coat after several years away. what i did do was re-paint an old dresser chanting about a thousand times: "take from the dresser of deal, the one lacking three glass knobs..." and listened to the new-ish will oldham and thought about how he and bill callahan sometimes say the plainest dumbest truest things (like american europeans!) which i squirm at and love, thinking, maybe i will NEVER say again. (my mouth was open, but i could not...)
now please go read something else. something good. as i was telling my girlfriend this weekend, the thing i love most about everyone and anyone i know is the hours they have spent alone reading. it's usually the sexiest thing about them.
or, at least, go listen to nick drake's dig, lazarus, dig!!!!-- track six, i think--"we call upon the author to explain". seems so blog (better than blog) to me. mr drake sings of berryman writing "like wet paper mache'" and going "the hemingway". it really is, weston, if not difficult, so what--brilliant, with "my friend doug" coming into the song thru a window and the "prolix, prolix, it's nothing a pair of scissors won't fix" coming round again and again, between great lengths of stanza.
(weston's "sexy snarl" is my new favorite phrase.)
i/we all want both. the very very very difficult and the very very very graspable. that's why i love who i love. (that, and all the books they've read)
prolixity has never been my problem; that's why, becca, though i really prefer/aspire to the poetry of a tolstoy or a flaubert (whatever) more than that of a rilke or an elliot (yeah yeah), i'm still sitting here trying to write poems. my, um, individual talent is short-winded. i also, however, love heightened language. that desperation and that complexity, too. and even though i am/was very recently obsessed with philip roth, working in response to his work was/is very difficult (look at the sprinkling of the "difficult"!) for me: there is, at the level of language, letters!, very little histrionics or theatrics and i find that i miss them.
and/but, somehow, i don't want to think of the choice as between poetry and prose. i want to think more (way more) like ROBERT IRWIN who moved outside his preandproscribed canvas out of necessity. his focus just went past the corners. i don't want to craft jewels or even jewel boxes anymore. and i have already tried showing/shown my tools. now i guess i really am again asking: why build?
robert irwin sat there for a very long time.
that's why (i hope) i am NOT writing, mr. knott, not because there is anything lacking in the project/process of poetry for me--or it's paucity of prizers or prizes (i mean, really, who the fuck cares after a while?) i really (hope i) am WAITING for a new form.
(my daughter and i made that up this summer.)
now go out into that snowstorm.
A first-generation Ukrainian American, Olena Kalytiak Davis grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. Davis’s poetry collections include And Her Soul Out of Nothing (1997), selected by Rita Dove for the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, and shattered...