Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

On Influence & Literary Thievery

I often write, think, and talk about the work by other's that has influenced me. Key Bridge owes much to the work of C. S. Giscombe, Charles Olson, and George Oppen, and I rarely -- if ever -- downplay that influence.

And I often refer to some version of the quotation attributed to Eliot about "bad poets borrowing and good poets stealing" as a way of explaining (justifying?) the echoes of other poets' work within my own.

Here, by the way, is the entire Eliot quotation:

"One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion."

I talk openly about my influences as a way to recognize and repay my debt to those writers. I also do it so that I can show other people other ways in: "if you like this, see this...."

But I realized that attributing my work in that way has been in part from modesty. It's not that I no longer want to be modest, but I do want to and have been thinking about influence lately and thinking that while I owe a debt to those writers that I should also think more about where my thinking fits into that writing.

Much of my writing arises from my response to the work I read -- I read something, am troubled by it (not in a good/bad way), and then I start writing. My aim is not imitation though; I'm almost always trying to understand something in the original work through my own writing. So my work ends up having points of overlap with the other work but is also very much the product of my thinking.

Good art helps its audience see other places that they can put their attention, good art is a door to a hall with more doors. So if someone reads Harryette Mullen and begins to write poems seemingly full of surface descriptions, surface descriptions that explode into a labyrinth of criss-crossing connotations, if someone opens that door, that's the point, right?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Key Bridge Concordance via Amazon

Okay, this is cool -- below is Amazon's concordance of the 100 most frequently used words in Key Bridge:

above always angles another away bark below between birds black blue body boy bridge buildings call cap car circles city dark diagonal distance does down dream edges end even eyes feet find georgetown get girl going green hand head hill jenny key know land leaves light lines location long look love loved man map mean memory metaphor name near niggers night nothing now open park past people place potomac put red river road room say see seeing shadow should skin somewhere sound space stars still streets suburbs talk tea thing time tree turns two wait watch water white without years

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Hummer (Of Course)

Was in DC this weekend and had much, much fun. Saturday night was the Nancy Kuhl and Elizabeth Willis reading courtesy those wacky and wild DC poets. Both terrific readers -- what fun and lots of good conversation afterwards about the benefits of observing others' attention and Writing from the New Coast. Then Sunday with Mom for mothers' day; I do have the best mom ever by the way. Then Sunday night with Brian and Ashley to see LCD Soundsystem play at the 9:30 Club -- loved it, loved it, loved it! Then getting up at 6 am Monday morning, so I could drive back to NC and put in a half day of work!

A photo essay with beer movies to be seen soon....

What fun -- I'd do it all again!

So I haven't really posted much about my recent tour; I have written about it in an interview that will be up sometime soonish though, so I think I'll just let that come out.

And what else, still working on setting up the West Coast tour -- looking pretty good so far: LA, Humboldt, SF, Portland, and a couple of maybes.

I have a Northwest swing shaping up for early October, a Texas leg for mid-September, and a Southern stroll for early November.

If anyone would like to have me out to read, I'm mostly willing to go just about anywhere.

And lastly, if someone would like a review copy of Key Bridge let me know -- e-addie on the right.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Any Book

The first post is here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Amazon, Coconut & Any Book

The marvelous & erudite Kevin Killian reviewed Key Bridge on Amazon! which I think is way cool!

Kevin's been writing Amazon reviews for nearly every kind of product that Amazon sells -- which is pretty much everything these days. Baby food, khaki shorts, books, etc. have been reviewed by Mr. Killian. It's really lovely to see someone use this public and so timely forum for beautiful ends. I'm not praising his review of KB here so much as I'm just so thrilled by the project when I say that is one of the most influential (literally) poetry works I've heard of in quite a few years. And the nascent Hooke Press of San Francisco recently published a volume of selected Amazon reviews by Kevin which unfortunately is already (after three months?) out of print -- hopefully, to return soon. At any rate, I was thrilled to see the review and to be a part of the project.

Okay, and I've got some new stuff (okay, just one piece) in the new-ish Coconut. It's part two of 24 Hour Breakfast. Part one's over here in Fascicle 3.

The rest of the Coconut, as usual, is really hot. I'll recommend starting with this one, this one, and this one. Lots of bodies in this issue -- good to see 'em.

And finally, for those holding their breath -- I salute you! I'm really really going to start publishing reviews over at Any Book. Win like a lobster, win like a lobster! Don't know where that came from -- need new mantra maybe. By the end of the week I'll have one up and at least two a week after that until I stop (reviews, not mantras.)