Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Still Life: Bed

This is a still life poem (on behalf of Jack's exercise): Bed by Donald Illich Accident and Injuries Workers Compensation Lesionad En Un Accidente? Carol Popular Music Winner of the Colorado Galvin Iran's Double Agent Larry Snow Flying Monkey Saloon 227 Duvall Second Story Books Thank You The REG 08-05-2006 22:49 Severity Elizabeth Bishop Edgar Allan Edson How Long She'll Last In This Kooser Visit us at www.msn.com Parallel Legitimate Dangers Sarabande Poems John Ashberry Daedalus Selected Play 9780226 "520575" 19 2006 Stephen Amy Bloom "If Dave Sedaris could Burt Dorothy Allison "Brave and forthright Fun Wesleyan University Press Poet's Global Alliance: Britain, Calif. Unite Home Interview: Christian Martin On Alison Porter&Shure Automobile Accident Houghton Sierra Trail Mix Fruit and Nut Bechdel Doctor EXP SS The Washington Post Mifflin selected poems by cott cairns Broken Snack Pack Del Monte Choice by Pencil Se Habla Espanol 301-884-9000 Magazine Child, child, love while you can Robert Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. of Though love be heaven or be Pinsky 866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. Independent The Self-Dismembered Man Arts Edited and Annotated by Alice $5.95 Official Partners of the Washington Redskins Issue 29


Blogger J Martin said...

"Bed" is a good title for this odd, encompassing list.

So how do you push on a revision for something like this. I mean, I think it's different than with a poem that's narrative. How do you know what fits where? What's the key to association and how do you discover this? I mean, I've done it before with other kinds of lists, and I think I kind of get it most the time.

But how do you do it?

Or maybe the question is: do you think a list like this can be subject to revision. I know you don't necessarily like to put energy in revision, that you like the white hot glow of standing in the volcano and grabbing magma and tossing it out, of herding the lava into lines, creating and creating and creating until something good comes instead of going back and jackhammering and filing and sanding the rock into something other than what it was when it emerged from the fire and cooled.

I heard Li-Young Lee talk about something like this once. He said he was borrowing the volcano metaphor from Emerson. So you're in good company, I think, but I still wonder what you would do if you were going to try to tweak this list.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Don said...

The poem is basically a word picture of all the text that was on my bed. It was originally called "What's on My Bed," but of course "Bed" is a better title. I tried to sort of cut and paste different words together, make the poem into a cubist portrait and hope that some interesting combinations came together. It was written kind of quickly, as I wrote down language I saw as I leaned over different books on my mattress.
How could it be revised? I think some of the lines result in better juxtapositions -- for example, the ones about "Robert" and "Pinsky" which also have lines from Sara Teasdale. I think they're funny, but they also say something about the poetry establishment. I think it's good to have lines that are complete clunkers, like the one that ends "the," but most should have some kind of frission. Not jokey or like a pun, but an interesting association or sound, that sounds like typical poetry or parodies it. What could keep a reader going in a poem like that are clues that reveal a standpoint on the languag. I think I could do more to make this a commentary on the commericalism of language -- what's the difference between poetry and commerce? Does an ad work like a poem and vice versa? If I took that into account in my revision, it might work.
I don't want too much order, though, because then the unexpectedness might be steamrolled out. Some of it has to remain inexplicable, I think.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I apologize for screwing up your name and the grammar lapses. I was typing quickly and just wanted to posted.

5:11 PM  
Blogger J Martin said...

Yeah, interesting.

How do you sleep with all those words on your bed.

No. Wait. Don't tell me.

I guess when I read it the first couple times I decided it was probably all of the titles/words you could see from your bed, melting into a dream litany.

Thanks for the explanation.

Have fun at CSNY.

Grammar shmammar. This is a blog not a library.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Don said...

When I'm a reader of this kind of poem, or any poem, I'm trying to figure out how to enjoy it. I need a "way in" to it. So, does "Bed" provide that? I like how you imagined it, a dream landscape of titles and words I saw in my room from my bed. But is this work any more than a curiosity? Do you think about it later and come up with more revelations, deeper meanings? I suppose that's a test of a work.
I like thinking about the mix of the book receipt with the book titles. Commerce, consuming, literature, all sort of the same thing. I like the Sara Teasdale stuff. I think some lines fall flat because they're just boring titles/words. But is having that ugliness part of the text reality I'm trying to show? I could be over-thinking this. Does this poem compare to flarf and other Internet developed poems?

10:55 AM  
Blogger J Martin said...

Geez, man. I don't know.

Let me go back and read it. Then I'm going to need to think about it awhile.

I can say this: I think my experience of the poem was mostly contained in the thoughts I had while reading and rereading it. It, this one, didn't have much afterglow for me, but I'll look at it again. And try to think what might give it that.

9:14 AM  
Blogger J Martin said...

Ok, so yeah, here are my best thoughts, well some thoughts anyway, on this. I think this poem's method: chopped line, chopped line, chopped line; with maybe some twisting done to the lines as in the Teasdale ending with Robert and and later Pinsky (which by the way is funny--now that i'm able to see it)--I think this poem's method makes it hard for me to see it as more than a list of probably mostle related sort of things thrown together: I mean, it feels like I don't have the key to pull it together. And I think it's because each line equals one unit, one remark, one phrase to wrestle with, and they're all about the same length. As they accrete, passing like the white lines dividing the highway, each the same length, my attention tends to waver, to let things I ought to notice slip. And this may be my own problem, my own reading problem, not the poems, but I want to invite other lengths of remark into this poem, a couple of lines or three or four that hold together through enjambment, a sentence or two or twisted phrase that maybe even comments, or seems to comment directly to me, postmodern self-consciousness, maybe overdone lately, but sometimes useful. Or something that snaps my attention back to the lines on the highway to make me think, hey that one was different. I guess that's one aspect of how I'd look at revising something like this.

It's kind of like what MD was calling for in Nebraska with regard to different lengths of poems and different looking poems in a manuscript to help keep readers' attention. Not exactly, because a poem is short. But I think in this case for me it's related.

But on the other hand, I may be inviting the poem to twist away from what it is, wants, needs to be, into what my perceptual operations prefer.

9:30 AM  
Blogger J Martin said...

Looks like this time my proofreading got put aside. Hope it doesn't get in your way.

"Mostle" of course equals "mostly."

Et cetera.

9:33 AM  

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