Saturday, July 15, 2017

Is there life beyond being a book?

...or books beyond books, and what would that be called? Let's be oppositive for a time and see where it takes us. Premise, that the welter of life is lived either (A) online, or (B) offline. Digital or analog. Connected or not.

I like books to be books. I tried e-reading and did not like it. I like books to be books. I have written books, self-published books, and that was okay. It was more than okay. But now I think I don't want to publish in any currently recognizable form but to release, broadcast, let go.

One writes a book. But is it a book if you do not release it as a book? It is a project, a work, a collection, an assemblage. The author - or assignor - designs a beginning, middle, and end. This effort is initiated. There is a point, urge, idea, construct. Where we had books, we now might have....what?

I feel inclined toward that what as a motivating factor. I am a poetic counter-puncher.

So, what would this look like, this publishing of a book that is not a book being published? I am in a good position to work this out having little stake in publishing for profit or reputation. But then I am not tied to being ground-breaking either. Efficacy speaks to me, and transmission of the clearest possible source, at least as I am able to make out. That's what guided the self-publishing for the past nine years. My idea, book edits, format, cover. Done. And how able being able to convert my current books, all 30 or so of them, into a new form to broadcast? That sounds like a fun bit of mayhem.

I see two threads (we're oppositive for a day, remember). Online: a website or Maybe a group page of some sort. On the analog side, a form of free distribution. Leaflets of a sort left about randomly. Planted in odd spots.

Stepping out the oppositive mode, the real questions are (A) what does all this mean, and (B) what's the writing going to look like going forward? I'll have to think about that!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Are We a Settled Fact? I think not!

Concrete Formalist poetry. I defined this page and the group I set up and the writing I do nine years ago. In that time the postings have moved toward asemic poetry and visual poems, which is interesting and relevant. So I thought to take a moment to look at the term Concrete Formalist and ask, Is that all there is to a fire?

The current statement runs, in part:

I work in form and am therefore a formalist; I happen to work in only one form; that form has strong visual markers, and is therefore "concrete." This blog also addresses concrete formalism as I perceive it in formal and informal pictorial or visual work and signature events, whether in my work or others' such as I am privileged to know.

I do not think about concrete formalism any more than I think about the term human being. So, the term appears to be a solution and a proposition and fluid in both respects. Concrete Formalism sounds like Orderly Bricks, or Art According to Hoyle. It is, I suppose, exactly those things or it is the title of a book, "book" defined loosely. I have never considered drafting rules or outlines of Concrete Formalism. I am not sure that what I am writing conforms to anything other than the rule that it should feel right, though those feelings are complicated. They have a history. They have training.

The temptation to state then that one who knows the alphabet or has access to a typewriter or iPad is a formalist (in concrete terms) does not enter here. I feel no such temptation.

I could massage the current statement to explain the non-block poems I write. I could do all sorts of boring things. The most boring thing I do - and it's not even close - is to do nothing because I doubt the work, its purpose, its effect, etc. All those nagging, debilitating writerly, artistic doubts. Boring boring boring.

Certainly the contributors to the Facebook page are not boring. You know who you are! We have 300+ members and, who knows, perhaps we help each other to feel, well, alive. I mean, I guess that's what this is all about. How else is being human bearable except to feel alive?

So. Are we a settled fact? I think not! Members come and go, and reappear. Interesting factoid: I think you are all brilliant. I can't be any more concrete, formally speaking, than that.

Merci, Felicitations, and Thank you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Poets, guidebooks, and parking lots

You are alone in nothing, who write poems.

What a terrible decision never to be alone!

You feel that you are lone. Liar! Who brought you here if not a writer? Who can stand you but another?

The musician records tracks. The painter blankets the canvas. The writer, aternal, begins. But what can the end be to beginning with friends who never die? I am a baritone (bordering tenor, my mind is clear) to Keats. Should I apologize for no choice? While in amongst all this I choose: I am a guide to Jupiter's pocketbook.

The poet is not the guide to the poet.

The poet is the accident to the guidebook.

The poet is the guidebook falling out of one's pocket into the fire or onto a muddied trail, picked up by a fellow traveler who thinks about asking around at the parking lot for who dropped the guidebook, but hesitates, climbs into their car, and drives home.

What lonely work it is! Writing the poem, reading the same poem.

What can we do but write poems? It's the only thing we can do!

It's the only thing we must do.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Let's not fool ourselves.

Whatever we have to say about poetry we are poets who find that we write poems.

We are poets who find or forget that we write poems that recall or forget poetry.

We who forget are not forgotten to ourselves.

Poetry is not a matter. It is not the idea of poetry.

The fact of writing is the being of a poet who, writing, ratifies the first principle.

Poetry, whether written, oral, or visual, is the smell one gives off, whether in heat, being pursued, or as a matter of recollection.

Let's fool others. Sorry, but there's no other way. Poetry offers various platforms for PRETENSE, such as authority, intent, material positioning, and ideology. One dwells in one or another pretense and then finds one writes poetry quite independent of the foregoing.

Ah, well. Spring after all is spring.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Writing, content

Occasionally I have an idea for a blog entry, an essay, or a poem. I think about the idea, toss it around mentally, but I never sit down to write it out. After a while, a day or two, the idea submerges or slides off stage - pick your metaphor for quiet disappearance - and life goes on. I am aware that I am letting an idea pass. I watch myself letting the idea dies out, "at least for the time being," I say to myself, and I am unconcerned. There may be a tinge of regret as I recall when my life seemed to hinge on the next thing written, but those days are past. I no longer depend on what I write.

I've taken to believing that a thing, if true, written or not, remains true. I have always held that only true things matter for writing and that writing matters for revealing the truth. I still believe this, that the effort of writing is a critical one for for the well-being and salvation of the human race and of ourselves as individuals. I believe this. I also believe that all truth is connected at the source of truth which is God. So, the truth that is writing is connected to the truth that is love, to the truth that is kindness, to the truth of eternal law.

I have worked hard over the last several years to live in truth; for my behavior and dealings with others and toward myself to be truthful. I've had to understand and change some things about myself. This is an ongoing process. And there are times when I recognize thoughts and feelings I have not had for many years, even since I was a child.

I am happier now than I have ever been. Writing is different though. Writing is not, as it was for many years, even decades, the solitary device which saved my life and brought me to the world. All parts of my life have this value now. In light of this, what should my writing be? What can it do to justify itself?

I would like to write in such a way that maintains silence. I would like to write is such a way that the reader is affected but not swayed. I want the reader to think first and foremost about themselves. I would like the reader, while he or she is reading this writing, to be able to think about themselves better, more clearly. I would like the reader, when they have finished reading, to be thinking about themselves rather than me or my name. I would like a kind of writing where I disappear from the reader.

I do not know what this writing would look like or even whether it exists or can exist, but that is what my writing would have to look like for me to want to create it. That is what it would have to be to make an impression on me in the life I currently live, if I'm going to be honest about it.

And why not be honest about it? Until I am capable of writing that makes sense for where I am now, am I not bound to be content with my life as a whole? And even if I were able to produce this writing, would not the same conditions apply?

I no longer depend on what I write but on how I live my life as a whole. I think this frees me up as a writer, whether I write or not. It certainly frees me up as a reader. I read more and with less concern for myself (as a writer) than as a person receiving another's work. I enjoy hearing new work at poetry readings. Anything is fine with me. But I like also reading old favorites, Robert Lowell in particular. Walking familiar roads and seeing things afresh, with a more generous, open heart.

I really have no idea what's next for me in writing, or painting, or anything of that nature. I am strangely content (and a little excited) waiting to see, turning ideas over in my mind only to watch them fade and disappear. It's a pleasant sadness, the notion that does not adhere, this qualified peace.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Political Option, as a Rule

There are no adequate histories and there never can be. A pure biography would be required to replicate the life it wishes to describe. The reader (or audience-individual) would have to be subjected to the physical realities and effects of the subject in real space and time. And we could only trust an audience-individual whom we could divest of personality and experience so that they could fully absorb the lesson that is the life of the subject. And so we make due with substitute actions rendered in words, pictures, sound, and performance. Some of these substitutes, such as written biography, serve the purpose of providing material for discussion. They can prompt or support action, or at least allow a person to a means of explaining themselves. Of course words and explanations, recorded or not, are largely a means of rendering daylight meaningless. We are all wanting sleep. I will return to this point.

Besides art there is politics, which is another form of anxiety. The great virtue of politics is that it makes life into a game, with winners and losers. A person who adopts politics for their artistic model is rewarded with a label. This label is a word that describes the person to others and most importantly to themselves. The person can customize the label to suit temporary or long-term circumstances. It is a handy thing to have a label, as opposed with being unlabeled. The one who is labeled can be confident of friends and small-talk and, as I have mentioned, words and explanations, recorded or not, are largely a means of rendering daylight meaningless. We are all wanting sleep.

This sounds like I am making fun of politics, and I am. But that is not to say that I do not take politics seriously, because I do. I have no choice, which is why I make fun of politics. I must take politics seriously because I care about my life and the lives of others, especially those who are vulnerable to the realities of life, such as proper food, shelter, and understanding. It is because I take people seriously that I take politics seriously, and it is because I take people very, very seriously that I hold politics in perspective.

Held up to the light that is the human race, with all it foibles and splendid accomplishments and potential, politics appears the most useful, or utilitarian, of our pursuits. Politics is, to my way of thinking, a framework of skeletal design on which to hang the skin of our hopes and desires. I am not especially "political" by nature, but I know you won't get anywhere without some sort of structure. Politics cannot explain why we are here or where we are going, but it makes for interesting conversation. And, of course, words and explanations, recorded or not, are largely a means of rendering daylight meaningless. We are all wanting sleep.

Therefore, to the point of what constitutes history, do we mean history in its perfect, meaningful, or practical forms? Let's be clear why we ask the question and what we expect or hope to do with the answer. We can consciously insert ourselves into the conversation how we like, labeled or not. We can operate in groups and/or individuals. We can create work. That work can be perfect, meaningful, or practical. It will be more or less useful to a person or group of persons depending on circumstance. We can comprehend the political, as an option, even as we acknowledge that we function politically, as a rule. The logic is: you can stop or go. I suggest you do both and as often as it is practical to do so.