Friday, March 11, 2011

Important Moments in American Poetry (Pt I)

Jack Spicer
from Vancouver Lecture I
June 13, 1965

But [W.B. Yeats] finally decided he’d ask a question or two of the spooks as Georgie was in her trance. And he asked a rather good question. He asked, “What are you here for?” And the spooks replied, “We’re here to give metaphors for your poetry.”

That’s something which is in all English department lectures now, but it was the first thing since Blake on the business of taking poetry as coming from the outside rather than from the inside. In other words, instead of the poet being a beautiful machine which manufactured the current itself, did everything for itself – almost a perpetual motion machine of emotion until the poet’s heart broke or it was burned on the beach like Shelley’s – instead there was something from the Outside coming in.

Now the difference between “We have come to bring metaphors for your poetry” and what I think most poets who I consider good poets today believe – and this would include people as opposite in their own ways as, say, Eliot on one hand and Duncan on the other – is essentially that there is an Outside to the poet. Now what the Outside is like is described differently by different poets. And some of them believe that there’s a welling up of the subconscious or of the racial memory or the this or the that, and they try to put it inside the poet. Others take it from the Outside. Olson’s idea of energy and projective verse is something that comes from the Outside.

I think the source is unimportant. But I think that for a poet writing poetry, the idea of just exactly what the poet is in relationship to this Outside, whether it’s an id down in the cortex which you can’t reach anyway, which is just as far outside as Mars, or whether it is as far away as those galaxies which seems to be sending radio messages to us with the whole of the galaxy blowing up just to say something to us, which are in the papers all the time now. Quasads, or. . .

Q: Quasi-stars.

JS: Something like that. At any rate, the first step is reached, I think, with Yeats. But the way that it works – “We have come to bring metaphors for your poetry” – this is like “we have come to bring fertilizer for your fields,” that kind of thing. You know, “well, you have such nice poetry, Mr. Yeats, and we spooks have come down from above to give you metaphors to hang it on to.”

Now this is not really what happens in my own experience, and I’ll be talking about my own experience most of the time. But I think I can also speak for the experience that others I now have had in dictated poetry.

I think the first kind of hint that one has as a poet – and I must confess I was, as Karen [Tallman] would say, a retard in this respect – is after you’ve written poems for a while and struggled with them and everything else, a poem comes through in just one-eighth of the time that a poem normally does. That’s the first experience. And you say, “oh well gee, it’s going to be much easier if I can just have this happen very often.”

So then you write seventeen or eighteen different things which are just what you’re thinking about at that particular moment and are lousy. It isn’t simply the matter of being able to get a fast take. It’s something else. But the fast take is a good sign that you’re hooked up with source of power, some source of energy.

Then the next thing is you suddenly figure out, well gee, when I’ve been wanting something, say I’m in love and I want to sleep with this person and, you know, the normal thing is, with a fast take, you write all these things down with an idea of, essentially, a way of selling a used car. [Laughter]

And this doesn’t work.

So one day, after you’ve had this first experience, which just was something you couldn’t imagine, and the poems haven’t come this clean, this fast – and they don’t usually, in dictated poetry anyway. Again, suddenly, there comes a poem that you just hate and would like to get rid of, that says exactly the opposite of what you mean, what you have to say, to use Olson’s thing in one of its two meanings.

Olson says the poet is a poet when he says what he has to say. Now, you can read the two ways: what he “has” to say, namely “I want to sleep with you honey,” or “I think that the Vietnam crisis is terrible,” or “some of my best friends are dying in loony bins,” or whatever you want to say that you think is a particular message. That’s the bad thing.

But what you want to say – the business of the wanting coming from Outside, like it wants five dollars being ten dollars, that kind of want – is the real thing, the thing that you didn’t want to say in terms of your own ego, in terms of your image, in terms of your life, in terms of everything.

And I think the second step for a poet who’s going on to the poetry of dictation is when he finds out that these poems say just exactly the opposite of what he wants himself, per so poet, to say. Like if you want to say something about your beloved’s eyebrows and the poem says the eyes should fall out, and you don’t really want the eyes to fall out or have even any vague connection. Or you’re trying to write a poem on Vietnam and you write a poem about skating in Vermont. There things, again, begin to show you just exactly where the road of dictation leads. Just like when you wrote the first poem which came easily and yet was a good poem, a poem beyond you. In the second stage you then say, oh, well, then I’ll just write this thing and I’ll take a line from someplace or another, or use a dada or a surrealist technique (in a different way that I’m going to use the word “surrealism” tonight, but the French surrealist way of placing things together, taking the arbitrary and all of that) and that won’t be what I want to say, and so that’ll be great. That’ll be hunky dory.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work terribly well either. You have to no really want not what you don’t want to say. It’s a very complicated kind of thing. You can’t play tricks on it. That’s the second stage.

The third stage I think comes when you get some idea that there is a difference between you and the Outside of you which is writing poetry, where you feel less proud of the poem that you’ve written and know damn well it belongs to somebody else, that your wife had the child by another father, and the wife being inside you, which makes the metaphor rather bad.

But the you start seeing whether you can clear your mind away from the things which are you, the things that you want, and everything else. Sometimes it’s a twelve-hour struggle to get a ten-line poem, not changing a single word of it as you’re writing, but just as it goes along, trying to distinguish between you and the poem. The absolute distinction between the Outside and the inside.

And here the analogy of the medium comes in, which Yeats started out, and which Cocteau in his Orphee, both the play and the picture, used a car radio for, but which is essentially the same thing. That essentially you are something which is being transmitted into, and the more that you clear your mind away from yourself, and the more also that you do some censoring – because there will be all sorts of things coming from your mind, from the depths of your mind, from things that you want, which will foul up the poem.

For example, mediums always have to have the accents that they were born with. There’s a medium who’s supposed to have been in contact with Oscar Wilde, and she – I think mediums are almost always, if not always fake, but just pretend that mediums were real because some of them may be, particularly in primitive tribes – she got all sorts of epigrams and they came out in Cockney because she only spoke Cockney.

Now, if you have a cleft palate and are trying to speak with the tongues of men and angels, you’re going to still speak through a cleft palate. And the poem comes distorted through the things which are in you. Your tongue is exactly the kind of tongue that you’re born with, and the source of energy, whatever it is, can take advantage of your tongue, can make it do things that you didn’t think it could, but your tongue will want to return to the same normal position of the ordinary cleft-palate speech of your own dialect.

And this is the kind of thing that you have to avoid. There are a great many things you can’t avoid. It’s impossible for the source of energy to come to you in Martian or North Korean or Tamil or any language you don’t know. It’s impossible for the source of energy to use images you don’t have, or at least don’t have something of. It’s as if a Martian comes into a room with children’s blocks with A, B, C, D, E which are in English and he tries to convey a message. This is the way the source of energy goes. But the blocks, on the other hand, are always resisting it.

The third step in dictated poetry is to try to keep as much of yourself as possible out of the poem. And whenever there’s a line that you like particularly well, which expresses just how you’re feeling this particular moment, which seems just lovely, then be so goddamn suspicious of it that you wait for two or three hours before you put it down on paper. This is practical advice and also advice that makes you stay up all night, unfortunately.

But even if you’re not interested in poems as dictation, you will find, two or three years later, that the lines you liked best when you wrote them were the ones that screwed up the poem. The poem was going one way, and you had this beautiful line. Gee, it was a lovely line, and just expressed how you felt at the particular moment – and oh lord, how lovely!

But at the same time, you are stuck with language, and you are stuck with words, and you are stuck with the things that you know. It’s a very nice thing, and very difficult thing. The more you know, the more languages you know, the more building blocks the Martians have to play with. It’s harder, too, because an uneducated person often can write a better poem than an educated person, simply because there are only so many building blocks, so many ways of arranging them, and after that, you’re through. I mean, the thing behind you is through. And it can make for simplicity, as in good ballads, American and English. In the long run, it can make for a really good poetry. And sometimes for great poetry, an infinitely small vocabulary is what you want. Perhaps that would be the ideal, except for the fact that it’s pretty hard to write a poem that way.

But the more building blocks, the more you have to arrange your building blocks and say to the Martian, “Oh no, Mr. Martian, it doesn’t go this way. That the spelling p-r-y-d-x-l doesn’t make any sense in English at all. We’ll change it around.” And then you make an anagram of it, and you spell what the Martian was trying to say. The more building blocks you have, the more temptation there is to say, oh yes – yes, yes, yes – I remember this has to do with the Trojan War, or this has to do with this, this has to do with that, and so forth.

But on the other hand, given a source of energy which you can direct, you can direct yourself out of the picture. Then given the cooperation between the host poet and the visitor – the thing from Outside – the more things you have in the room the better if you can handle them in such a way that you don’t impose your will on what is coming through.

And that’s the whole problem you have in modern poetry – the fact that most poets from, say, nineteen to twenty-seven that I know, who are good in San Francisco, are really against education because they know that education is essentially going to fuck them up because they can’t resist, if they have all of these benches and chairs in the room, not to arrange themselves instead of letting them be arranged by whatever is the source of the poem.

BONUS: Here’s a link to an excerpt from Vancouver Lecture III:


At 3/11/2011 3:51 PM, Blogger David-Glen Smith said...

Thanks for posting this.

At 3/12/2011 6:10 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

It's such a small snippet though. Spicer's thinking on this "From Outside" is spread over 170 or so pages . . . I would love to see it edited down to 15 or so pages. I bet it could be done. It's a position that has become much more important since then, and his lectures are, together, something of a foundational document for a different view of the role of the poet than is often talked about.

At 3/12/2011 6:14 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Just to add:

For me, personally, the Spicer lectures, together, are one of the three foundational documents of late 20th Century poetry, along with Robert Bly's Leaping Poetry and Ron Silliman's The New Sentence.

At 3/14/2011 10:30 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I read The House That Jack Built for one of my classes and it was great. I've tried to read My Vocabulary Did This to Me but whenever I finally get around to making any progress, someone places a hold on it at the New York Public Library.

At 3/14/2011 9:39 PM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

"Olson says the poet is a poet when he says what he has to say." Jack Spicer

"The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty. He is a sovereign, and stands on the centre. For the world is not painted, or adorned, but is from the beginning beautiful; and God has not made some beautiful things, but Beauty is the creator of the universe." Ralph Waldo Emerson

At 3/14/2011 9:42 PM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

"Now the difference between 'We have come to bring metaphors for your poetry' and what I think most poets who I consider good poets today believe – and this would include people as opposite in their own ways as, say, Eliot on one hand and Duncan on the other – is essentially that there is an Outside to the poet. Now what the Outside is like is described differently by different poets. And some of them believe that there’s a welling up of the subconscious or of the racial memory or the this or the that, and they try to put it inside the poet. Others take it from the Outside. Olson’s idea of energy and projective verse is something that comes from the Outside." Jack Spicer

"For poetry was all written before time was, and whenever we are so finely organized that we can penetrate into that region where the air is music, we hear those primal warblings, and attempt to write them down, but we lose ever and anon a word, or a verse, and substitute something of our own, and thus miswrite the poem. The men of more delicate ear write down these cadences more faithfully, and these transcripts, though imperfect, become the songs of the nations. For nature is as truly beautiful as it is good, or as it is reasonable, and must as much appear, as it must be done, or be known. Words and deeds are quite indifferent modes of the divine energy. Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words." Ralph Waldo Emerson

At 3/15/2011 6:27 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

What I like about the Spicer versions is that he keeps the value and beauty parts out of it . . . for him, it's a secular meditation. I'm more comfortable with that. He's similar to Stevens as well, in several fictional ways.

Spicer was only 40 when he died. I really feel that he hadn't gotten to the fullness of his potential with this. In the lectures, the back-and-forth, I can feel, or I can imagine I feel, his possibilities opening up further, but that was it. He really didn't have a chance to write anything much after that, he died so quickly.

At 3/15/2011 7:00 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

Except that there is no "value" except that the thing do what it do. As Emerson wrote in "Circles": "I am not careful to justify myself. I own I am gladdened by seeing the predominance of the saccharine principle throughout vegetable nature, and not less by beholding in morals that unrestrained inundation of the principle of good into every chink and hole that selfishness has left open, yea, into selfishness and sin itself; so that no evil is pure, nor hell itself without its extreme satisfactions. But lest I should mislead any when I have my own head and obey my whims, let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back."

At 3/15/2011 7:06 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

That the thing do what it do, yes. I'm down with that.

But the sin and etc., still, Emerson's trapped in his time. He wants to justify himself while transgressing . . . to transcend and stand here talking about it.

For me, the "other" is more fun to conceptualize as a radio or a Martian . . . obvious in their fiction. Emerson's nature is too steeped in devotion for me.

But yes, without Emerson, it would be difficult to have come up with a Stevens or a Spicer, so his importance is unquestionable.

At 3/15/2011 9:09 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I'm also thinking of Picasso's, "I do not care who it is that has or does influence me so long as it is not myself."

At 3/15/2011 9:19 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

"You are one thing, but nature is one thing and the other thing, in the same moment." RWE

OK, enough, enough. I hope you know I'm not trying to downgrade Spicer or Stevens or Olson in any way -- they are all poets whom I love & who have influenced me in ways Emerson never could -- & I think that's something Emerson would applaud: "Democracy is morose, and runs to anarchy, but in the state, and in the schools, it is indispensable to resist the consolidation of all men into a few men. If John was perfect, why are you and I alive? As long as any man exists, there is some need of him; let him fight for his own."

At 3/15/2011 9:20 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

It just really surprises me that more fans of Spicer, Olson, Duncan, Zukofsky, et al. don't bring up Emerson more.

At 3/15/2011 9:54 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Fuzz: Nice.

Michael: Oh, I hear you. Emerson could be brought up more, and in much more interesting ways than how I got him when I was young. But he's a little long in the tooth now . . . I'm still caught up in why people don't talk about as much as they could about a lot of 20th century figures.

It's all about where you want to draw the line . . . like why stop with Emerson? What about Swedenborg? You know? We all just grab the few we like best and talk about them.

And the whole thing is so MALE.

At 3/15/2011 10:05 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

I could throw in Dickinson, Stein, Moore, Niedecker, Armantrout to the conversation as well. Armantrout? Emerson says in the poet "Bare lists of words are found suggestive, to an imaginative and excited mind." I know Language Poetry (& Armantrout's specifically) is more than just this but this is one of their overall points, isn't it?

At 3/15/2011 10:09 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

Emerson's devotion is steeped in what is which is both reality and imagination.

At 3/15/2011 10:14 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Sorry, what I meant was that history hasn't done a good job of getting things about poetr written by women to us. We have excellent examples of great poetry, however. I agree.

Yes. Reality & the imagination. Stevens would say yes, Spicer would not like the terms.

At 3/15/2011 10:45 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

I don't like the terms either!

At 3/15/2011 10:46 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Maybe the spirits would be open to renegotiating?

At 3/15/2011 6:22 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...


The Afterlife: Letter to Sam Hamill

By Hayden Carruth

You may think it strange, Sam, that I'm writing
a letter in these circumstances. I thought
it strange too—the first time. But there's
a misconception I was laboring under, and you
are too, viz. that the imagination in your
vicinity is free and powerful. After all,
you say, you've been creating yourself all
along imaginatively. You imagine yourself
playing golf or hiking in the Olympics or
writing a poem and then it becomes true.
But you still have to do it, you have to exert
yourself, will, courage, whatever you've got, you're
mired in the unimaginative. Here I imagine a letter
and it's written. Takes about two-fifths of a
second, your time. Hell, this is heaven, man.
I can deluge Congress with letters telling
every one of those mendacious sons of bitches
exactly what he or she is, in maybe about
half an hour. In spite of your Buddhist
proclivities, when you imagine bliss
you still must struggle to get there. By the way
the Buddha has his place across town on
Elysian Drive. We call him Bud. He's lost weight
and got new dentures, and he looks a hell of a
lot better than he used to. He always carries
a jumping jack with him everywhere just
for contemplation, but he doesn't make it
jump. He only looks at it. Meanwhile Sidney
and Dizzy, Uncle Ben and Papa Yancey, are
over by Sylvester's Grot making the sweetest,
cheerfulest blues you ever heard. The air,
so called, is full of it. Poems are fluttering
everywhere like seed from a cottonwood tree.
Sam, the remarkable truth is I can do any
fucking thing I want. Speaking of which
there's this dazzling young Naomi who
wiped out on I-80 just west of Truckee
last winter, and I think this is the moment
for me to go and pay her my respects.
Don't go way. I'll be right back.

At 3/16/2011 4:40 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

Robert D. Richardson, who wrote the excellent biography Emerson: The Mind on Fire also wrote (in 2009) First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process, which is a book I'd highly recommend to everyone, especially teachers. He opens up the chapter "Practical Hints" with this:

"We do not usually think of Emerson as an intensely practical person. Give us Emerson for ideas, perhaps, but Thoreau for the practical application. But this is to ignore a side of Emerson that is enormously practical, even though the practicality may be masked by humor or drawn out -- by fine attention to detail -- into astonishing Platonic universals. Once when a wagonload of firewood arrive at Emerson's Concord home while he was indoors talking with his usual gaggle of idealist friends, Emerson looked out the window and, rising from his chair, said, 'we must deal with this just as if it were real.' "

Though even here, I would argue with the word practical &, being a Yankee, would side with Constance Rourke, who wrote: "The Yankee has often been called practical, but in the bits of story and reminiscence quickly accumulating about him, his famed ingenuity often seemed less a practical gift than a knack for making changes."

At 3/16/2011 4:49 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

I also think that what the spooks meant when talking to Yeats ("We're here to give metaphors for your poetry") wasn't that they would be delivering the lines for him to transcribe but rather that they themselves, as spirits, would act as metaphors. Which veers even closer to Emerson's "transparent eyeball" than probably you, Spicer, or Yeats would suggest.

At 3/16/2011 5:24 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Well, first, Emerson IS huge in American lit. But I understand what you mean when you say that he's not givn all the credit he could be given.

Part of it, I believe, is because his poetry was, well, terrible. So no matter what interesting things he has to say about poetry, American poetry, and the poetryto come . . . it gets tempered by his lack of ability.

And then it's all just the use of metaphors. "Transparent Eyeball" is wild and all that, but as a metaphor, Yeats's spooks, Spicer's Martian Radio, and, on the practical side, Stevens's Necessary Fiction resonates more these days. That's not to take anythign away from the foundational importance of Emerson . . . that's obvious . . . it's just that it gets updated over time, and we tend to dwell in the updates.

At 3/16/2011 7:12 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

Not being in academia, I guess I can't say how much or little Emerson is taught, or, more importantly, how he's taught.

How is Emerson's poetry (by which you mean his verse) terrible? I think it's jagged, torn, weird, distorted, funky in all the right places. He wasn't trying to write like Longfellow or Lowell. Not nearly as weird or wonderful as Dickinson in places, but wilder in others, far as meter. His Essays are spectacular studies in compressing way into form. You want to talk about "The New Sentence"? And they emulate the transcendental philosophy as the sentences and phrases build the paragraphs which build the circles of his thought. They mimic the "all in one, one in all," or the e pluribus unum.

Tell me about those updates (from "Self-Reliance"): "There is no more deviation in the moral standard than in the standard of height or bulk. No greater men are now than ever were. A singular equality may be observed between the great men of the first and of the last ages; nor can all the science, art, religion, and philosophy of the nineteenth century avail to educate greater men than Plutarch's heroes, three or four and twenty centuries ago. Not in time is the race progressive. Phocion, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Diogenes, are great men, but they leave no class. He who is really of their class will not be called by their name, but will be his own man, and, in his turn, the founder of a sect."

Don't sell yourself short.

At 3/16/2011 7:17 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

John: don't get me wrong. I'm not gonna go to the mat for Emerson's verse as being the paragon of any century, movement, or manner, but I do consider the Essays poetry, very much so. "Not metre but a metre-making argument." John D'Agata would call them lyric essays. Inflammable. Flammable.

At 3/16/2011 7:31 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, I find his essays to be essays. I like them. They're good. They are an addition to the conversation while enacting a lot of the spirit of which they are speaking to / from. But they did not say everything that is to be said. They are among.

I think (for me at least) his poems, his verse then, if you will, to be terrible.

I don't really start getting into poetry though until the early 1900s. That's when things really start for me. Around 1911, say.

At 3/16/2011 8:08 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

That they don't say everything is exactly the point. Then what need would there be for Yeats, Stevens, Spicer, Gallaher, or Schiavo?

At 3/16/2011 12:31 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I wouldn't call Emerson's verse terrible, but it's not particularly interesting. It still reads like a lot of 19th Century poetry.

I have similar thinking to John's in where my interest begins: the 20th Century. Unless we're talking about France, in which case the second half of the 19th century is particularly exciting as well.

At 3/20/2011 2:00 PM, Anonymous Queen Bitch said...

I've never understood poets who say, "For me, poetry begins in the second half of the 19th century or in the 20th century." The first poetry that set me on fire was French and American surrealism, but I developed an interest in the Metaphysicals--Donne et al.--about the same time. Their conceits reminded me of the bizarre juxtapositions in Peret and Tate. Dylan Thomas and Bill Knott, two poets I liked in my late teens, are both surrealists and metaphysicals. I loved the surrealism and deep-imaginess of Plath, but the brilliance of her metaphors and the fecundity of her imagery pointed back to Shakespeare and Marlowe. The study of good contemporary poetry has always led me back to old poetry. Kenneth Koch said that Keats and Hopkins made him feel he could cram his poems with a lot of stuff whether he understood it or not; Strand associated Bishop's signature tone with George Herbert; Ashbery obviously likes very old stuff. We could go on with this for a long time. You should read both foreign and old. Surely any good poet would agree with me. I'd take the King James Bible over 99% of the people writing today.

At 3/21/2011 6:03 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Hi QB:

Well, I guess that means I'm not a good poet then. But I do like David Bowie, however, and Hunky Dory is one of my favorite albums, so maybe we can find that common ground?

I admit I'm also not a fan of the King James Bible, though I agree, as Bibles go, it turns a phrase well.

At 3/21/2011 7:28 AM, Blogger Delia Psyche said...

Well then you know "Eight Line Poem" on Hunky Dory. Remember what Burroughs said about that when he was talking to Bowie? He said it reminded him of "The Wasteland", which is of course a collage of lines from Dante and Webster and many other old poets. Bowie said he'd never read Eliot. Sometimes when I'm talking to a kid about his poems I'll say, "That's almost blank verse, that's mnemonic because of the assonance, the enjambment here is appropriate to the sense, why not sustain the rhythm by continuing the anaphora, etc." The kid doesn't know what I'm talking about. He's achieved these effects by accident. But he'd write better if he learned what he was doing by studying some old stuff--even by ripping off the old stuff the way the punkers ripped off The Yardbirds and others.

Maybe my references sound dated to young readers. I'm about the age Cobain would be if he hadn't blown his brains out. I'm past the age when you get all excited about every new Yale-winner, every recent photogenic Iowa grad.--QB

At 3/21/2011 7:46 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Well, then I'm two years older than you are. Just sayin.

As for the oldies, well, I've read them (or a hodge podge version of here and there) back when I was reading everything everything everything. Now I'm concentrating on the things I like best, which is mostly the last 100 years. 100 years is a long time, even if it's only an eye blink. I'm happy with that.

Bowie! Well, he composes mostly through a version of cut-ups, right? Most things he's written have a suite / Modernist fragmentation quality to them. And then with elements of musical theater and pop and soul music. So yeah, I didn't know of the conversation between the two of them, but it makes ense that he'd say that and then the other he, Bowie, would reply in that way. He's The Faker, after all.

At 3/21/2011 9:42 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I know all those fancy technical terms, but they never enter the piece during the actual writing process. It's only after I'm done that I have any idea what I've been up to.

They seem more useful at the editing stage.

But maybe I'm still too young to know anything.

At 3/21/2011 10:09 AM, Blogger Delia Psyche said...

No, you're right, Fuzz. You don't think about those things while you're writing--not much, anyway. You think about them before and after, mostly. But que sais-je?

At 3/21/2011 8:24 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...


(David Bowie/John Lennon/Carlos Alomar)

Fame, makes a man take things over

Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow

Fame, puts you there where things are hollow

Fame, Fame,

it's not your brain, it's just the flame that burns your change to keep you insane, Fame

Fame, what you like is in the limo

Fame, what you get is no tomorrow,

Fame, what you need you have to borrow

Fame, Fame, "Nien! It's mine!" is just his line

To bind your time, it drives you to, crime, Fame,

Could it be the best, could it be?

Really be, really, babe?

Could it be, my babe, could it, babe?

Really, really?

Is it any wonder I reject you first?

Fame, fame, fame, fame

Is it any wonder you are too cool to fool

Fame, Fame, bully for you, chilly for me

Got to get a rain check on pain



What's your name?
What's your name?
What's your name?
What's your name?

At 3/24/2011 3:00 AM, Blogger MASchiavo said...

John --

I'm all for reading whatever draws you to it. If you open a book & it's not doin' it for you, shut it & move on, especially if you've read enough books to know what you like & what you don't, leaving room always for surprise.

That being said, I can see where we'd diverge in our opinion on Emerson's verse/poetry. When I started writing poetry, I started primarily with pre-20th-century poets. Carl Sandburg and T.S. Eliot (& a little Pound) also captured me early on, followed quickly by Stevens and Moore, but I held the opinion for a long time that if you were born before 1900, you probably didn't write good poetry. And boy howdy do I know that's wrong.

Still, I'd agree with Emerson when he wrote, "No greater men are now than ever were."


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