Monday, January 05, 2009

Another excellent post over at Mike Barnes's new blog. It can be found here, so why don't you go there now and favourite it: trust me, it'll be the most interesting and thoughtful new blog you're going to come across. In today's post, a post about blogging and writing and a poem penned near 30 years ago. Hallmark Barnes: layered collage coaxing connections not otherwise apparent.

For a taste, I'll pick one of his footnotes, or "speculative scatterings, the small change of spectral shakedown":

4. i produced "effects." and from the humblest of means: Hilroy notebooks, scraps of paper, pencils, Bic pens, a Smith-Corona manual typewriter that was thiry years old then. the mounting numbers of poems were dispersed around the world. batches of 10, outflow always exceeding inflow. if 7 "browns" (taffy-coloured 9-by-12 envelopes, addressed to me in my own hand) arrived in the morning mail, 8 or more went out that night. remixes of the better--on second look--of the 70 returns, augmented with new ones from the days since. 70 poems back, 80, 90, 100 poems out. those kinds of numbers are what once casued me to estimate, to bemused eyes in a writing classroom, that--crossing 1500-plus poems with the fact that some favourites went out at least ten times before being retired--i might have accounted for 10,000 poems passing in front of the eyes of others. 10,000 poem-perusals, however brief. and they also help to explain how the 125-or-so poems i eventually published in magazines could strike me as a relatively minor--if happy--effect i was producing. ("a Rocky of Verse" i styled myself: a nickname with mauled grandeur in its belittlement.) more immediate and more regular was the scowl my mailman gave me when i caught him loading the browns onto the flimsy wire claws beneath my lobby mailbox or, in protest, letting some of them drop to the floor. Jimi, too, my softheaded super who played ball hockey with his cats, i caught handling the browns, turning them back and forth in befuddlement before casting a (for him) sharply suspicious glance at his attic tenant. these were effects. so were the mailings and returns themselves. matter translated in the world. type on paper in envelopes in a truck or plane: carbon on carbon in carbon by carbon. was it bertrand russell who defined work as moving matter on or near the surface of the earth, or directing such movement? well, i was moving, and directing to be moved, a lot of matter. working from A to Z in the International Directory of Periodicals, i imagined fingers of all kinds handling my pages and responding to them with sighs, chuckles, curses, groans, frowns, smiles and, yes, silent wonder. i expected abuse, hoped for adulation. i received solid examples of the first and mild promises of the second. solid: a letterhead from a little mag with the macho boast: "Honest craft we salute, asswipe we so identify." my rejection was a blank page with "asswipe" circled raggedly. another tough-talking westerner--both of these Californian--scrawled "mostly this is SHIT." mild promises: acceptance, without comment, of a poem, the other 9 returned (i developed an uncanny ability to tell a "light brown" by heft). or (almost better in a way, more intimate): rejection with handwritten encouragement, "these weren't bad...send more." Poetry Australia accepted my poem synchronizing the life of Heinrich Himmler with the flowering of a hawthorn tree outside my window. a mag inEngland found "The Rabbit Screams" to be "hallucinatory, though needs shortening." a mess was being made. people all over the world were dealing with it. i was happy, involved. effects.

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