Thursday, July 24, 2008
You are my favorite dead poet--and, if we living poets are also ghosts, you are among my favorite living ones. This is the month that comes around at least once per year, when I reopen your out-of-print Collected Books and tell myself that it's time to stop procrastinating and write about what I've found in your poetry, your lectures and the small number of your letters I've had the opportunity to read. I've started this blog (to which others will be invited) in order to push myself toward getting some of that work done. We'll see how well it works.
Soon your collected poems, My Vocabulary Did This to Me, will be published by Wesleyan University Press, thanks to the efforts of Kevin Killian and Peter Gizzi. I can't think of many publications in my lifetime that feel this important, for me personally and for contemporary poetry in general, which I sometimes see as stuck in some places from which your writing could help it escape, were it more widely read. What will you think? Will the likely blossoming of critical discourse around your work be a spring or an ocean of error, in which what's still undealt-with in your work gets left aside in favor of a picture of you as another prophet of the way we write anyway? Are my metaphors too mixed, too watered-down already? Will my own notes merely add a few drops of embalming fluid to your remains? (Actually, I can't remember whether you were embalmed). If you become an "influence" on the order of Duncan, Creeley, Olson--and I'm always surprised that you aren't already--will you turn over in your grave?
Only time will tell. Or it won't. In
any case, I thought I'd drop
you a line before I squawked
out word of this
to anyone else.