Tuesday, April 05, 2011

G.C. Waldrep / YFOTTOG / PW Blog

I'm in PA right now and away from the blog. Meanwhile, G.C. Waldrep and I are blogging together here through Thursday:


Here's our post from yesterday, the new one will go up at 1:00 Eastern:

G.C. Waldrep: For me, the origin of Your Father on the Train of Ghosts was a set of largely inchoate ideas about poetry and community—about art and life. It seemed to me that we were all still mired, largely, in a Romantic conception of the poet as a solitary singer: that poetry, from both a writer’s and a reader’s standpoint, was something isolated and isolating. But this wasn’t how the Dadaists and Surrealists viewed it. As someone who has committed his life to a certain ideal of community outside the classroom and written page, the presumption bothered me. What sort of poetry might arise out of collaboration, that is, artistic community? Out of friendship?

It’s a question I’m still pondering, even after the 16 months of poetic exchanges from which YFOTTOG was sculpted. Can reading and writing be public/ collective/ collaborative acts? Rather than personal/ private/ individual? What sort of literature—what sort of poetry—might result if they were?

John Gallaher: The creation of YFOTTOG was a social act (and it still IS, as we figure out what to do with all the poems that are not in the book). That’s one of the things I really enjoyed about it. We didn’t have a purpose or plan, other than what was in front of us. It’s interesting to hear you mention the “solitary singer” conception. It’s one of the many things I didn’t know about you when we started, but it’s something I’ve also been contending with for a long time. This “solitary singer” is just as fraught (or, as I’ve also heard it termed, “authenticity”) as is “originality.” What I mean is that the notion of this Romantic I with its “authenticity” gets passed around a lot, and I think it’s largely a fantasy. Just as “originality” is largely a fantasy. These are relative terms, not absolutes.

Poems, in reality, come from everywhere the poet can find them: memory, environment, gum wrappers. It’s all reaching out into the context to add something new. The poet just tunes in to whatever works. It’s been my general feeling all my writing life that all writing is collaborative. One collaborates with the world. Working on this book has made it literal. It’s given the world an email address, so to speak.


At 4/06/2011 9:42 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

My junior year at Naropa I gave myself the challenge of writing nothing using my own words. I filled notebooks with snatches of conversation heard on campus, quotes from comic books, mistranslated fortune cookies, the juxtapositions you find reading across the spine in novels, and many other eccentric ways to mine found text.

It made me aware of how many words there are in a single day and much the ones we encounter color inform our writing.

Since then, none of the poems I've written have been the same.

At 4/08/2011 8:30 AM, Blogger Julio de Luna said...

Farmers are so beautiful
beneath the empty chalice
of a day-moon.

Sitting on strawbales
under a tree,
their hands
hanging between their knees
like pheasants
from the rafters of a barn.

For them, April
is neither cruel
nor Poetry Month.

It is when things are
given into the ground
so that they may be
given a gift in autumn.

- de Luna

At 4/09/2011 9:30 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I had a similar, though not quite so extreme experience. Finding that I could listen to the languaged world and then incorporate that directly into poems forever changed my relationship with poetry.

For better or worse, depending on how one feels about such things. But I'm happy with it.

Hi Julio! Glad to see you're still on this side of the grass!


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