Thank you for letting me come over. Having just arrived I’m already baffled but that’s as good a place to begin as any since I’m typically only able to write once I’ve cleared my head of anything resembling thought (or so I tell myself between the cracks). On the other hand this predilection can make writing prose a bit of a tricky endeavor, and I more or less gave up review writing many moons ago because I spent too much time agonizing about the spaces between the sentences. So the plan for the moment is no plan, and hopefully that will make for enough of a map to begin pitching some readability back and forth across our mutual register (readability not being a cryogenically frozen head, for my part).

I actually kept a blog for a little while a few years ago, but I didn’t really tell anyone about it – the idea was to post drafts of poems and treat their presence on the web as an act of editing, making use of the distance created by another type of appearance to "see" if the writing could get it together. I called the blog Pet Tomb Guardian and let it be known to my brother Edmund – already using his own version of this blog-editing device and therefore my inspiration in the matter, as usual, though he was actually writing poems directly into his blog and further cracking the cracked language of the chemical industry, with which he maintained a semi-intimate relationship as copy editor for Chemical Weekly magazine; his favorite acquired word out of that gig was methyhexylcyclododocane (cyclododocane is one of the so-called binding media, which can be used for temporarily sealing fragile objects, such as one’s psyche), which did find its way into one of his poems. But I had to give it up when I realized that most of the spam comments showing up in the little boxes under my poems were not as interesting as the initial message that implored me to check out a blog about horse jewelry. Plus I made the mistake of telling other people about the Tomb, which effectively killed off the whole premise of public privacy as work space.

But I still like to write in rooms full of strangers when I can, and perhaps there’s some parallel in that impulse to taking on this somewhat collective endeavor. On my mind at the moment as possible topics for upcoming posts are the exhibit of works by William Blake ­– watercolors, engravings, illuminated books, letters ­– that just went up at The Morgan Library & Museum here in New York City, and the experience of re-reading Jim Carroll’s prose in the wake of his recent death. The Blake show is amazing, but I was only able to spend forty minutes with it the other day, and need more time there in order to write anything more salient than having registered a tiny degree of shock at re-realizing that George Washington has a speaking part in Blake’s America: A Prophecy, as well as recognizing a rather shapely level of tenderness towards Milton evident in Blake’s notes on his own illustrations of Milton’s  “L’Allegro” and “Il Peneroso”. And while I’d like to write about Carroll, who was a long-time friend of my family, I still feel a little mystified by his funeral, a very intense Catholic mass a few weeks ago that, for reasons I haven’t completely sorted out, gave me a harder pinch on the inside than I might have anticipated.

That said, if you’re into heavy contrast you could try reading Carroll’s Downtown Diaries and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse across the same time frame to see what kind of head you get. Is that too much of a plan? I don’t typically imagine figures from different eras spending time together, but for some reason picturing those two voices mingling in a human context filled me with a version of glee from time to time last week as the weather began to shift into a thus far grey-toned autumn.

Originally Published: October 3rd, 2009

Author of eight books of poetry and numerous chapbooks, Anselm Berrigan earned a BA from SUNY Buffalo and an MFA from Brooklyn College. His collections of poetry include Integrity & Dramatic Life (1999), Zero Star Hotel (2002), Some Notes on My Programming (2006), Free Cell (2009), Something for Everybody (2018)and the book-length poems Notes from Irrelevance...

  1. October 4, 2009

    Well, Anselm Berrigan, I look forward to seeing where an unplanned plan takes Harriet's.\r