Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Little Dotty

This poem card was printed by Rosemarie Waldrop at the Burning Deck Press, of a poem I wrote back in the 1970's. I suppose technically it is a postal card, but it feels more like a broadside. Yet, at 3 1/4 x 9 inches, it's too small to be mounted on the wall. Just the sort of thing you print when you have a nice stack of waste paper left over from a serious job.

What I like about it is that the visual representation of the meaning of the poem is the literal letter the poem describes--the lower case "i". The i, then, becomes an eye mounted atop a pedestal or pillar. The eye's pupil is like a literal dot--the mind's focus. The poem's shape is both the letter itself and the description. A happy conjunction of word, letter and intention. A self-defining artifact.


Conrad DiDiodato said...


I see an interesting (hopefully a 'happy') tension between the formalist & experimentalist in your recent writing samples: on the one hand, the lyrical originality of "Beautiful Breathing" and, on the other, the interesting selection & combination of letters/materials for your early 'poem card'.

Where do your own sympathies lie most: with the lyrical originality or the more contemporary radical posturing of visual poetry, and particularly the 'poetry of dissonance' as celebrated by Waldrop herself in her book "Dissonance (if you are interested)"? What type of critic do you write for: the Vendler- or the Waldrop-type?

In a chapter entitled "Split Infinite" in "Dissonance"(in a discussion of Edmond Jab├Ęs & meaning to make observations applicable to poetry in general)Waldrop says,
"The relations between the terms keep shifting. No one metaphor is central or even more important than any other. In the end we are left with gestures: the gesture of analogy rather than any particular analogy, the gesture of signification rather than any particular meaning, the gesture of endless commentary and interpretation."

I see your poetry as residing somewhere in this shifting terrain of intention & practice.

Curtis Faville said...

I've always been eclectic in my tastes, vacillating between wide extremes of preference and interest.

Writing can be a vehicle for sincere and powerful emotion and thought, and I admire writers who master their means and deliver the goods.

But I also understand and appreciate other ways of approaching writing. As an experiment, an exploration of means. Innovation may be more important to the progress of literature, than static use. But the works from the past we value for their content--as if that could be really divorced from the form of their presentation--live beyond the ephemeral concerns of their time(s).

Will Pound be thought good 100 years from now? If not, will his politics be the issue, or his sometimes difficult formal demands? Or both?

Dickens seems filled with information. Is he also a great writer? Swinburne was a sweet singer. Did he have anything at all to tell us?

I would not want to be pigeon-holed into some specific position. Geof Huth is doing interesting things. But Jack Gilbert can be wonderful. Clearly, they're doing very different things. Should we be forced to choose one as being important, the other irrelevant?

I've never been able to make those kinds of fixed choices.

The whole point of Silliman's blog--especially his linking campaign--seems to be to apprehend as widely as possible. To see and appreciate everything. That doesn't preclude aesthetic choices and preferences. It may in fact validate them--by giving weight to the measure of one's opinion.

Kirby Olson said...

Do you mean this was recently printed, or was it printed back in the 70s?