Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Frame to your Mother

Seeing a lot of frames lately. Hearing some too. Not using pronouns. Doing a lot of that to start the blog.

I see frames not as literary/critical devices. I think the most recent iteration of frames had something to do with deconstructing frames as implicit context forms (who's the framer; framers dictate frames; frames reinforce the power structure of framing, etc.). But I think that spiel has run its course, so we are more or less allowed to think about frames in a somewhat unframed discussion.

I see frames somewhat, these days, the way I see painting stretchers. I mean wooden stretchers one assembles into a rectangular form to accommodate a stretched canvas. But I don't see frames accommodating anything really. I tend to see them as having been erected, then collapsing. The way painting stretchers can collapse one way or another if you but some laterally intended weight on them.

I see frames that do not bend, but I think they might bend and even fall apart. No doubt, to be assembled again. When I was painting, I would choose the stretchers (for framing the canvas) by laying them out on the floor of the paint supply store, substituting lengths, until the proportions suited the painting I had in mind. I never erred in this practice. I have never stretched a canvas then thought, Oh dear, this is all wrong. No, the stretched canvas always suited the painting, the way a pool accommodates the swimmer.

I wonder if this anecdote points to anything other than a kind of tendency. Probably not. But right there I am letting a frame go, I suppose.

I have done this letting go of frames more often than is good for me, I suppose. I write a kind of poetry that I should work to present as the poetry I write, with explanations and frames, frames of frames. But perhaps the block form of the poetry precludes further attempts to frame. Nature abhors a clean surface, you know. Nature wreaks havoc on lovely blocks.

Well, let nature have its way, I say. I will make blocks and time and the elements can kick them around, or not, as they see fit. I am a terrible framer. I don't explain things very well. But I can put something together as well as anyone, or so it seems to me. I may be a bit of a block, myself. I don't know that such a person can do much to change their relationship with themselves. Such a person can be employed, or they erode. Even by themselves, sitting there, they prompt thoughts of another way to do things.

Well, I hope I am a nice block. For a block, that is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Write Real Books, People. Not like me.

Every now and again (yeah. like, every 4 hours) I kind of wonder why I call  myself a writer. No, that's not true. I never call or think of myself as a writer, except for the collateral that would suggest I write.

No, I have made too many mistakes to claim anything for myself. You will see in these blog postings at least a strong suggestion that poets/artists follow more conventional publishing channels than I have. But I have not quite said that I made a mistake doing what I do. I do so now.

I think self-publishing is a terrific error.

I came to this realization - why, just the other day, when it occurred to me that the difference between writing and no one ever reading it, and not writing at all and no one knowing, was immaterial. Now, this is dour, is it not? But consider, I have no groups or publishers or avenues or school to which I belong. I self-publish, via, to no notice or acclaim or even "likes." My life, in terms of being a "writer," having published, is exactly what it would be if I never published. I am not bravely alone. I am simply alone.

Put against this fact the following. Two years ago I joined the Catholic Church (I know, hang on). In those two years, I have taken on the role of lector (reader), cup minister, council member, and sponsor. I am about to take on bread minister. That is about as much as one can do, technically speaking (occupation-wise) and remain a lay person. For my efforts at my church, I am praised, thanked, respected, and liked. I have made friends for life - and beyond, when it comes right down to it.

Further, there is no end in sight to what I can know and experience through church. I am considering how to take what I know to the streets, to people who need material, emotional, and perhaps spiritual help. The prospects are endless, the groundwork sure, the material fascinating, the community innumerable, present, and enthusiastic.

But, I should care to write poems. I should care, you say, to...what? Make a name for myself? Impress people? If I could have impressed anyone, self-publishing was not the way to do it. The chief impression I have made as a writer, as far as I can tell, is that I have avoided making an impression.

I do not think this is admirable. I think it is dumb.

Let's look at it this way. Since dedicating myself to poetry, having written 26 books, nothing has changed. If my writing has made a difference, it is one I am unaware of. What I publish meets no acclaim, no reaction. I might publish, on a Monday, a book of 40-some pages I have spent more energy and time on than I care to recount - to no response - and then, that Sunday, having read a short couple passages from the Bible, receive more response than I have experienced in the past five years of writing.

This isn't about being discouraged. I have never felt encouraged enough to be disappointed. This is about choices, and not making a monument out of yourself. I can either confess having made a mistake, or I can pretend otherwise. I am not very interested in pretending these days.

So, if a young poet says to me, what should I do, I would say go straight unless you're dumb just like me, in which case I can't help you. But - I will not applaud you. I have long maintained that if my work was great it would be recognized regardless of how I published. I maintain that view but add now that it can be pretty sweet not being great but having some kind of dialogue going on, because, you know, it's okay just to be a part of things - the way I am part of a little local church and perfectly happy with that.

With writing, I have driven myself into a psychotic idiot-logic corner where transparency veils oblivion. Maybe this too is a lesson. Maybe I had no choice but to do things the way I have. Maybe I am like an eagle, soaring the currents. Sure, pal. These are the kinds of things poets say who have no other excuse, and no one to talk to. Could I do things differently now? Uh, no. That's not how this sort of thing works. I have made choices. I live with those choices. Being a poet is not a straight-line life. If writers live at the boundary of conscience (and don't they all say that?) then one should not expect the life of a writer to be an easy one. It should be a little ugly, at least a little.

But who's to say that the ugly is not true, or that the world is poorer for lovely, perfect failures, like this "career" of mine? Ah well, I am not too discouraged. I would rather live in honesty than die a liar. So I say, write real books, my friends. Write books and talk to each other.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing Intent: Of

I see that I write about intent a lot. Perhaps I am a poet of intent. Perhaps intent is the medium of the amateur, one who never achieves anything more than to live in desire.

If so, I am happy with intent.

I am never more alive than intending to write only, then writing with only that intent; or, having written with my intent intact. Certainly, I do not claim to have achieved anything. But then the world is not perfect, even with all the poetic achievement that others have realized.

I am not alone intending, but I am present in intent in a way that others, perhaps, are present with their achievements.

I do not mean to suggest anything to a purpose, to being right, to being anything other than what I state here. I write a lot about intent. I suppose, that if everyone were to intend well, the world might be a better place. Not to write, for only writers are defined by writing. For us, writing is more than a means to one or another achievement. And for me writing is at its best - speaking personally - an event where the person intends to write, and write well. To write truly, without impediment.

What is writing? It is an occurrence realized in artifact. I do not feel, personally, that I am present in what I have done. Such matter and material is only a trail. No, I am present in desire. In desire I am present and write. In desire, I care to exist. From the perspective of writing, I do not exist, regardless of what has been written.

I have in fact a strange career. For the life of me, I cannot locate it, yet it seems to have no boundaries. I am not forever starting over (oh, I remember that feeling...) but, 20-odd years later, I am nowhere I can name as being one thing or another.

I do know, that if you were to say You have done this or that, I would say It does not matter. Or, if you were to suggest that I do this or that (for my "writing") I would respond the same.

Who is this person, capable of a committed marriage, raising a child, a career - who joined the Catholic church, for Pete's sake - who is so utterly absent to transaction in the world he has cherished longest, which he holds most dear, that of poetry?

I do not have a plan, and whatever logic this makes eludes me. Except to note what I note here, I have no purpose. I gut myself, I exhaust myself, and my intent and desire remain.

Perhaps nothing makes sense that propels sense-making. Perhaps I am not alone in anything I think or feel.