CBB at Avebury
How I Came to Be Whatever It Is . . .
Once at a party, while describing a large-scale floor installation drawing I was making, a fairly well-known historian and scholar leaned over and asked me, ‘Dear, how is it you came to be whatever it is you are?’ I laughed, it all must have sounded strange, but her question makes me think now about the particular form of my writing as a whole, and what, if anything, it demonstrates.
When I was a kid, I thought for a long time that each time I blinked the world changed. I probably still think this, because in my mixing of poetic forms, in the ‘blinking’ sequence of poems, I hope the poems in aggregate have their own impressionistic narrative. If there is meaning to be had in the whole, I would say it could be found in the space between the poems, in the way they cohere or not.
I like working in different poetic forms—usually simple forms with simple rules that can be easily subverted. So spare but flexible bones. I like combining the conversational with the formal. In For Lack of Diamond Years (Pelekinesis 2013) I used a handful of forms: free verse, unabashed counting forms like the Hay(na)ku and the Elfchen, and a very minimalist version of John Cage’s mesostic form along with a small number of poems based on colors and traditional American songs. My latest book, Ariadne/Dark Dark Shine, has lost some counting forms in favor of a few longer, more narrative and stream-of-consciousness poems along with some ‘throwaways’—small nonsense, minimalist poems—I like the humility of the throwaway, whatever it is—there’s a poignancy in it for me.
And in general, I prefer clarity and precision in ALL pieces/parts of whatever I do as counterpoint to the ambiguities and rambling and unknowns of thought/feeling. This extends to a very particular use of punctuation and line spacing. I’m a visual artist as well as a writer, so the way the poem looks on the page plays an important role in the sense/sensibility of the poems. That’s pretty much it.
Subject or imagery, poem to poem, is most often a matter of what captures my attention at a given moment. Love and loss, the narration between realms of being—the quotidian/numinous/the-revamped-transcendental.