Who's the work here? says the object. An object that may cease when discarded, torn up. Perhaps unread - not unread - the monkish tree in a sensible forest.
There is no point in not allowing a thing when one confesses it in word in deed. A studious look, the unshaven Saturday look. The leather coat for readings.
A poet once said, the only difference between a cynic and a romantic is their immediate proximity to a free meal. A cynic quoted that line, but in the context of public speech, he is a romantic.
A cynic, a romantic, and a realist went into a bar. The bartender asked, What will you have? All three ordered their drink of choice. Tell me who paid.
To be frank, I want and aim to enter back into things public and free-flowing and have. Why? That is not my question. What is my question?
Why ask questions?
I go through my work and my "history" (weak beer) snaps or lodges into a kind of focus. I think of the advice I would have provided students whom I have never by the grace of God been allowed to tutor, Be careful to love great authors, for you inevitably will model yourself after them.
What is a great author? There, I lose me. I lose you, I lose me. We will not fall any further than in posing that question. I ask your forgiveness that things should have gotten even to that point.
But we visit this juncture for the purpose of, quite suddenly, just as one might follow up and ask, What is a great poem, to suggest that you, the inquirer, are the point of the question. You are the very form and purpose after which we inquire, as, by extension, am I.
I call myself a concrete formalist. What this means is that I aim to capture form. I aim to capture the form of being, in particular, via process. As a young man, reading on my own in NYC, bartending at C.B.G.B.'s, I ascertained that contemporary manners would not serve to capture anything other than the will to portray oneself as sympathetic to a time and place and circumstance. I wanted to capture process - to capture the Engine. I wanted being. I understood the classical method as a personal requisite. You may say that all is politics, and I will agree with you. I will go further and say consciousness of the political is political. I seek being, its fact & the face of it.
It has never changed, really, the authors I trust. I trust their sense-making. The clarity of the here and now, including the clear song of language put to the service of a willing, thrilling soul. All that we do is fine, just fine, but I prefer my sources. Homer, Virgil, Hesiod (and so many of the Classical authors), the Bible.
I prefer Kierkegaard to the news. Why? I mean, why bother even to state such a thing? Because it is true, and for a reason. The news means everything when we are conscious and caring and capable enough to act. But how we act is governed by our language and our ideals and our forms for action-taking.
Go forward a few years into my thirties and I understood my place: to put forward and hold out for the form and process I understood, being faithful, and believing it was right to do so. I maintained this platform and approach through my forties until now.
For all these years I have felt myself at odds with achievement and success. But still I wrote as one who has no choice. I am not alone in this way of handling things. Many poets and artists and musicians work away at the thing they believe in, often without material success or note of achievement. And that is fine. We do so willingly.
But the point here is to say, I am secure, at last, simply being who I am and having written what I have written. I do not see myself as being outside. I do not see poetry world not as a category or as a collective of otherwise-thinking individuals. Instead, I see myself, simply, as one among many ones. Finally, I can allow this. That I exist.
I am already here.
I need only step forward and introduce myself and say, Here is what I do. It is kind of funny. It is a little odd. Would you like me to read?
In truth, I can see how what I do fits in and supplements what's here in Portland, Oregon, as one example. The scene here is dynamic and diverse. The changes over the past 15 years or so are incredible. And I now see myself in light of that context. It is very refreshing. Really, my writing life has been a kind of hell. I have never known where I stood in relation to anything contemporary, including, you know, people.
But to read, now, Caesar's commentaries and know I have not wavered from the message, from the form...that is really all the reward I ever, ever, ever really wanted. Not to be great or write Great Books, but to be true, to be faithful to love. This, I am willing to share, not for any kind of reward, but simply to be happy with others who, I firmly believe, will be able to share in my writerly, strange happiness.
It would be a personal refutation to ask for anything more.