But on the next day, it's best to abandon what you've written the night before. So, in some way the goal here is to produce, to be prolific, keeping a regular flow of words, almost always prose, in trying to figure out what this form does, how it parallels and abandons the silence and isolation of the notebook. The image and object at once. Originally, they were Mead brand composition notebooks, in black, purple, green or blue marble. For a few years now they've been black, perfect-bound Blueline brand notebooks, I've only seen them at Bob Slate's in Cambridge. I bought three of them before I left Boston. I'll order them online once those run out, or get more during the summer.
A constellation of writers who on my shelves are a community, a collective. But in life, are disparate, sometimes at odds with each other, maybe unaware of each other. I've finished the first drafts of the Juan Sánchez Peláez translations. Now I must write the short introduction and fine-tune the translations, two poems from 1951 and two from 1989. Three of them written in sequences of Roman numerals. In the introduction, I want to compare his method to Jack Spicer's ideas on the serial poem. I don't know how much they would have coincided, had they met in person. I think they both would have agreed a semi-private notebook is best for poems, to avoid the rush toward publication. Rimbaud's silence is undoubtedly a type of presence or pressure in their writing.
Wilson Harris builds the image of a "Dream-book" he has edited for someone named Francisco Bone, a survivor of the Jonestown massacre in Guyana. The prolific nature of Harris's novels, twenty-four of them, from The Palace of the Peacock in 1960 to The Mask of the Beggar (2003). All published by Faber & Faber, though I get the sense they don't know exactly what to do with Harris. How does one "market" or promote a Wilson Harris novel? His abandonment of poetry for fiction in the late 1950s coincides with his departure from Guyana for England, and it might be a plunge into a total, or epic, type of poetry. Because none of his novels work in any recognizably novelistic manner. Jonestown (1996) is as much a testimonial as it is a "ghost story." Harris is (again, Spicer) merely editing, transcribing what Francisco Bone has sent him:
" 'Leap,' he said (in the gathering menace of the Storm), 'into my net and help me to hold the heart of the Predator at bay within rhythms of profoundest self-confessional, self-judgemental creativity. The leap into space I grant is dangerous. It is a kind of surrender to an unfathomable caring Presence that seems absent in a cruel age. It is the leap of the unfinished genesis of the Imagination that may bring to light unpredictable resources in an open universe that nets, in some paradoxical way, creature and creation. LEAP...' " (75)
I read Alli Warren's Cousins (Lame House Press, 2006) this weekend. I have #31 of 100 copies, with bright orange end papers, hand-stitched, its great cover photograph of two apartment windows, a vibrating contrast of bright red, blue and green painted bricks on two neighboring buildings. It opens and closes with two different poems named "My Factless Autobiography." Several lines in the first one strike me as speaking a language that manages to describe, or draw, today's predicament. The presence of a violence without reason or end, only quantum increments, doubling. But now that section has disappeared when I go to find it. It wasn't an explainable presence or sight. I remember laughing when I first read it, then acknowledging the section was so accurate. But I'll quote another section, then, from this book I like so much:
"A new era becomes everyone's eyes
Fidelity is fed a lot of root vegetables
a feat of fungus in the trunk
On the block pleading
Bills! with the irate clouds and all that offering
a cinematic housewife a high hard one
over the heart of the plate"
I'm late to so many things, Jack Spicer's poems for example. When I asked Cedar in 2003 in SF what book of his to start with he said: "Just not the Black Sparrow edition. It's horribly edited." I had to get on a train that morning so I didn't have a chance to hear him explain why. A few weeks ago in NY, I asked Filip which book he recommended I begin with and he said: Heads of the Town up to the Aether. A few hours later I was reading it and one of the first things I found was, direct and applicable as any autobiography:
"At 35 one throws away crutches. (cf. Inferno Canto I)"