Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Issues: Day 4,982

Here are a few of the things dogging me these days:

Follow this link to Justin Evans:


So, what is the issue here, really? Is it knowing one’s own value as an artist? Well, no, not really. It’s more trying to figure out this world of writing and publishing. What is there to say about it? One writes. Yes. That is the important thing. But then what? One thinks about publishing. One has to think about publishing. One cannot not think about publishing. But, thinking about publishing is potentially very bad for one’s art, right? Because it makes one think about audience? But what if thinking about audience makes one write better? And who is to define “better”? Charles Wright once remarked that when he writes a poem he thinks of writing it for his friends, the poets Charles Simic and Mark Strand. Is there a difference? These days, whenever I write a poem, I write it to send to G.C. Waldrep. Is that any different than thinking about “audience” as, say, some journal or press? Does this mean one is “selling out” in some fashion, or to some fashion?

Perhaps a strategy would be to think of sending one’s poems to Vladimir and Estragon? They seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

Speaking of G.C. Waldrep. He’s a friend of mine, and a person whose poetry I admire. We’ve been writing poems back and forth for a few months now. Long enough that we both have well over a hundred poem each. Waldrep was calling it his pile, in conversation, his “Accidental Book.” I’m thinking of it as a very large pile of things on my desk. As many of our poems riff off each other’s images and poems, it makes me wonder what we’ve done, and what we might possibly do with these things in the future. Are they one huge book together? Are they an “experiment”? Are they an interesting accident that we’ll each take in other directions?

As artists, we all follow whatever thinking occurs to us, but then what? What do we do with all these things? Well, back to Justin’s questions, perhaps . . .

All of this leads me to Jorie Graham. I’m currently reading her newest book, and I’m having a difficult time. Jorie graham used to mean just about everything to me, circa 1990 – 1995. What has happened since? I think it was while reading Swarm, that I began to find myself arguing with the poems. Perhaps this is a mark of strong work. I took the time, and I still take to time, to buy each new book, and then argue my way through it.

Does she see the world differently than she used to, or do I? I think that is the question. That is my argument with her recent work. And who prevails? Or is prevailing the wrong question?

For whom is she writing? Is it no longer me?


At 6/24/2008 1:13 PM, Blogger C. Dale said...

Nope. She is not writing for you any more, John. Nope, no, nada, niet.

At 6/24/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Alas. I had such hopes.

(PS. I was just thinking about you today. How funny.)

At 6/25/2008 8:04 AM, Anonymous tara said...

About the writing and publishing bit. I probably have no business commenting as I haven't made any attempt at publishing yet. But for some reason I don't see a wide gap between the business of writing and the business of publishing. Poetry (for me at least) is a way of sorting through various transient influences until you hit on something that rings true and is important to you. Than with publishing you'd want to try and see if you could hit on people and groups of people for whom the same would also ring true. Sort of expanding outward until your transient moment became history. I guess the writing part is more introverted and the publishing more extroverted...and lots of poets are bad at the extroverted part. But that doesn't make it a "bad" or unworthy part in and of itself, or any less important, does it? Forgive me if this all has nothing to do with what writing and publishing poetry really is about...I'm new to all this. :)

At 6/26/2008 7:13 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Makes sense to me!

Some people get uncomfortable talking about the publishing part, but, uncomfortable or not, it's the only way out of one's living room . . .


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