Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bill Manhire inspires great and disastrous attempts at higher art

It's only 9.30 but I can tell nothing is happening today. Bill Manhire talked to us yesterday and I was inspired by a lot of what he said, but this morning I tried to write something using 'another' text like he seems to be fond of doing, historical things, other non-poetry type things. Research I suppose. So I tried that and I don't think it is for me. I wrote something 'inspired' by The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1990, Dover Publications. ISBN: 0-486-26464-5).

Fucken hell. Bill mentioned several times that we need to change the source material intention to make it a poem otherwise what is the point, which is of course easier said than done. I guess it helps if you bring something else to it, like Bill seems quite fond of making other works into metaphors for writing like the Lightning poem. I guess I'm saying I didn't do that. Maybe I'm not at that stage yet. H.O.D. does have quite a weird, dark, imposing tone, so maybe that doesn't help if you are trying to help it escape itself into something else?

I also went heavy with the rhyme which Bill inspired too (he showed us a couple of new things which were sensational!). Although I've started geting into that a bit on my own. Such a tricky one.

In other news, I read a couple more Palmer (I really, really want to spell his name Psalmer. Is that wrong?). Anyway today is another write off, but I haven't had too many of those so far, so that's OK. I just feel weird, disconnected or something. Don't know why.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Not much to report. Started my 'other' new Michael Palmer book Company of Moths (2005, New Directions. ISBN: 978-0-8112-1623-4) and read a few more Rae Armantrout.

Wrote the 'Consolidation' poem.

Have to do a reading on Friday. Feels like I have nothing worthy to read. Should I go for untested new stuff (which I think is better, but who knows?) or the older more tested stuff? Damn it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rae Armantrout

Good timing. Rae Armantrout's book Versed (2009, Wesleyan University Press, USA) arrived today. It's always nice to have a hardback, feels more like a proper book, pity they cost so much more.

Read the first ten or so, they are good, but perhaps not as brilliant as I'd been hoping, some seem a little heavy-handed in the political sense, in that way that Michael Palmer is not. I'm sure some people would completely disagree with me on that, but I prefer politcs that are subtle, mysteriously alluded to. Like the poem Outer that begins 'Dolls as celebrities (Barbie); / celebrities as dolls...' too obvious for me. But the less political ones are great like Help:
A space
can't bear to be un-


I mark it:

"I" "I" "I"
I think the short lines in some places work against the power of her words, I feel I would get more of an impact (a more natural impact I think) from longer lines, complete phrases/thoughts. Short lines always seem very contrived, kind of like the poet is making the decisions not the words I guess. There are delights in that too however like the 'un-//interrupted' part above. I also liked versed, particularly the wonderfully flat last section that is so full of musically terse repition:
Mother yells, "Good job!"
when he drops the stick,

"Good job!"
when he walks in her direction
Funny too, apparently that is one thing she is known for is wit.

Wrote something about the Monet exhibition I went to last week. Sounds boring I know, but I think it turned out OK. The exercise I wrote yesterday for today's class ended up being about an early sexual experience and I think that left over feeling may have invaded the Monet poem.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Promises lived up to (and Jorie Graham)

Seconds ago finished Promises of Glass have to talk about it so excited have to talk about it taken me awhile but so excited he is brilliant isn't he he is I want to be just like him don't think I am write differently so excited write more excited don't know maybe less misty just figured that out I think he writes misty just beyond reach can't grasp it unamed things undescribed things characters appearing receding fading the narrator or the reader the Michael Palmer character war rhyme has become prominent fashionable maybe I don't know he works it quite blatant but beautiful usually brings it in heavy for one stanza then drift away again something I should try maybe have to talk about it have to come down from Tower:
just now, wind and racing sky,
the distant cathedral of Epifan',
and after repeating the words pine

then pond a few so many
times I wrote them down
just now and the word crocodile,

and Beograd, Pristina, this night their fires.
Time was I would memorize
each thing that passed before my eyes

and scribe it on the magic list.
sleep's deeply secret tablet,
titled My Life as a Futurist.
Fucking amazing!

[Added 12:00pm]

Read a beautiful essay about Jorie Grahan by James Longenbach (Modern Poetry After Modernism, 1997, Oxford University Press NY ISBN: 0-19-510178-2). He was talking about her in terms of post-modernism and how she treats her writing after Pound/Elliot and then Elizabeth Bishop etc. but I get the feeling he is in total awe of her powers, the way she does something remarkably and astoundingly different with, not only every book she has written, but every poem. My curiosity is raised. It sounds like she is incredibly smart, incredibly ambitious and incredibly hard to read. I guess not aesthetically because she has good grasp of music and surprise, but because the classical references, the competing narratives, the largish words, the subtle philoosphical debates all require incredibly close reading and thought. Sounds like the kind of thing we should all aspire to write. But can everyone write like that? Should everyone try? I think attempting new things all the time is definitely worth while, but classical references, I've never been into that. But I like her ideas of melding disparate narratives, like in one poem she had some classical story (Greek or something) the story of a girl in a gas chamber and a personal story of visiting her grandmother in a home and somehow made them all one. Interesting idea. I'm going to have to get some of her stuff. I'll go look now and see what around to buy. Longenbach you are awesome!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Legging it

Just a quick one. I've read some more of Milk and Honey and I want to talk about just one poem, because that is all I read today and I tried to break it down, figure out 'what it was about'.

On first reading I had no idea, except for these small clues:
  1. The title Faith and Rage - questioning faith?
  2. The subsection headings of Chaosmos (1,2,3) and Tourbillion (1,23) - Chaosmos from what I can gather (can't find it in the dictionary) is something to do with Chaos and Cosmos, not sure how or why, but it seems to fit roughly in with Faith and Rage thing. And tourbillion is a vortex/swirl or spiralling firework. So kind of annoying that I had to look those up, but they are cool words.
  3. The ending suddenly drops out of collage and into some very short lines that have a bit more syntactical drive (similar to the poem I quoted yesterday - must be a technique of hers to 'end' a poem)
    I like sitting in the park
    when everything
    holds its breath
    at the moment
    it gets dark
    the Stranger lights
    a match
  4. She mention babies, birth related things, female genitals etc. I think there is a clue there. Flicking through the rest of the book, those kinds of subjects pop up a bit, so maybe a bit of preoccupation there for the whole book?
So I guess I weren't too successful in figurin' out what it was about, but I certainly enjoyed it. Some of the disjunction was too much for me. Collage! Too much jumping about with no images, links, threads, I think I prefer a Tourbillion - spiralling, out of control, perhaps with a bit of Chaosmos, but at least still moving in a certain direction. Didn't Pound create some kind of thing called a vortex? I think that might have been something different to what I'm talking about. Anyway, overall it was good but perplexing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More of The Hoag

I've read a few more of his essays, one in particular stood out which was about the fear of narrative and the kind of disjunction that is popular today. He brought lots of examples and arguments for and against narrative and some possible reasons why the narrative so prevalent in the 70's and 80's has fallen out of favour, but I get the sense in the end that he is an old zebra and doesn't really want to change his stripes. He talks about the lack of emotion or intent in these poems which gives them an air of lightness. And yes, this is a similar argument to the essay I read yesterday and I both agree and disagree with him. Emotionally charged poems are brilliant, but you don't NEED narrative to achieve that, the fact that many of the these disjunctive poems of today don't have a lot of emotional content doesn't mean that they won't in a few years time. Was The Red Wheelbarrow the pinnacle of modernist writing? Did it achieve everything that is good in poetry? He has to put this in perspective. He mentions one of the reasons disjunction has become so popular is that the world doesn't seem to fit into narrative structures anymore, we live in an age of fragment, of unconnectedness where there are no happy or otherwise endings. He is right about that I think, it is a social change as much as a poetic change and for that reason there isn't any going back (not for the foreseeable future anyway). Not that he doesn't suggest we go back, but he doesn't suggest we go forward either. I guess he is conservative and there is nothing wrong with that, but art for me doesn't have boundaries, even this notion of how poetry must have to have emotional resonance - does it really? Or is it that just the way we've always done it? Can it operate on an intellectual level? A subconscious level? A spiritual level? Are some of things only accessed by disjunction?

Also for me, I think my brain simply works language in that way. I do have a limited attention span and I can't write any other way. And when I read those surprising breaks those leaps of imagination in other pieces of work and get way more of a thrill than I would reading a confessional narrative ala Louise Gluck and others.

Anyway I bought Michelle Leggott's Milk and Honey (AUP, 2005. ISBN: 1-86940-334-7) yesterday and I am liking it (so far) more than her earlier stuff, her phrasing and form seems to fit her ideas better. I seem to get more out of them and less overwhelmed by them, although I think in most ways they are just as mysterious. She seems to be what Hoagland calls a 'collage' poet and perhaps more so than the so called disjunctive poets although that distinction seems fairly pointless. Maybe I'm meaning more surrealist than languagist. No, that's not right either, she crosses over into language poetry sometimes. Labels are stupid anyway.

But to her actual writing - the last stanza of tonight I am sad:
Oh Oh Oh
three peacock feathers
in the letterbox
unsleeping eyes
green and gold and black
big news
morning dews
my screen lights up
it's a beautiful day
I'll go to the city
and make you guess
what I bought
and how it
almost fits
over my fizz
for you
O bird
O bee
O spandex butterfly heart
Astounding collage of images I think, odd and arresting, the first part seems like a collage, then it goes into a bit of sustained address to 'you' and then that word 'fizz'. What is it? Besides the rhyme why did she choose it? The sound? The splatter of saliva on the screen when she says it? Then it ends on that mashup of the colloquially textual 'spandex' and the cliche of 'butterfly heart'. It works for me.

I wrote the Posthistory today, it was just such and intriguing title I couldn't resist. Not sure if I achieved anything, but then I never am.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sofistikated or sophisticated?

I've read a Tong Hoagland essay from Real Sofistikashun (2006, Graywolf Pr. ISBN: 13-978-1-55597-455-8) which talked about surface pleasures in poetry and art. He compared Henri Matisse to Stein, Palmer, Bernstein and some others with regard to how they use what he calls the effect of 'polka dots and pattern' to create simple, but somehow intriguing poems. He talks about their heightened sense of music and disregard of meaning and the referant. I can see that as a valid argument, but I'm not sure most of those poets would be happy with that summation of their work. I think they would see their work as reaching a higher meaning, perhaps more in tune with the reader's subconscious mind rather than diregarding meaning altogether. To be fair he did mention Michael Palmer as one person who somehow seems to transcend both spaces. I think Palmer's work is a natural progression of 'language' based poetry, he is using the techniques the underlying philosophy of the movement and hinting at wider themes, wider ideas. He just does it better than the others.

It was an interesting argument and I certainly don't disagree with anything he said, langauge poetry as well as Matisse do a carry a weight I think, it is subtle and ever-changing, but the work exists because it is a testament to the artists intention and attention whatever that may be.

I wrote some more history today. This time based on the section headings of Michael King's Penguin History of NZ: Prehistory, Settlement, Consolidation, Unsettlement, Posthistory. Cool titles for poems. I hope the body can live up to the head.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Read, read, read

I think I'm thinking way too much about my reading package. It's not the main event. I suppose it is good to think about things like that and research those things, but it's not writing, it's not reading for writing.

The promises of glass - I just finished Palmer's sub-section Four Kitaj Studies. Apparently Kitaj is an artist who taught at Berkeley for awhile and not some kind of Japanese art form, as I assumed while reading it. There as some nice poems in this section. Quite different to the other stuff he has written, not as much disjunction (a word I learnt from Mr Longenbach) as usual, I suppose his style was modified slightly by the subject matter. I liked The questions of crows:
There is dust. Are we
to love the dust? There
are shadows. Will we make
a tent of shadows, a
shelter of black rivulets?[...]
I like the strangeness of the crows' 'voice', their formality. It's unexpected. I've recently been thinking, my main things are surprise, confusion and memory, which I think are, alot of the time, the same thing.

I wrote another history poem today, this one with the subtitle alternative news. Still playing around with the 'and/or' clause trying to push it to its limits. Obsessive, but at least I'm not obsessing over a bunch of essays about language.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I've just read a really interesting essay by James Longenbach about a tiny little word most of us probably think we know all about, but as is usually the case in writing and particularly poetry, there is much more to it than we think. I won't go into all the clever quotes and beautifully constructed arguments he used and just dumb it down in a couple of paragraphs.

He basically points out that the word 'or' is incredibly powerful in poetry, it (much more so than 'and', 'but' and 'so') represent the true nature of the human mind. Our thoughts are muddy, self-doubting switch between things. He argues 'and' implies causality, a definte connection between things, tells the reader what to think. This affects me, because I tend to use or alot. Damien (my supervisor) mentioned it the other day as a possible tic of mine. So, do I use 'or' too much? Do I use it in the wrong way? Should I use it more?

After reading this essay I think I use it in a clunky way. Longenbach gives an example of a guy called Oggen(?) who uses 'or' alot and the images/ideas kind of build on each other in natural, inclusive kind of way, like 'money or the gold' not 'money or the bag'. There is that seperation in logical philosphy of the exclusive 'or' from the inclusive 'and/or'. The inclusive one is more useful in poetry I think; it could be either thing, but it could also be both. In the past I think I've tended to compare two things that are worlds apart and this jumps the reader out, they are forced to choose. It's that state of not quite knowing, but at the same time becoming clearer that I want to acheive. A bruise is like bell or a wineglass or wine spilled.

So in that way, I think I can turn a tic into a feature. There is talk about these things called tics and I'm starting to think they are bad habits, more than tics. Doing the same thing over and over isn't necessarily bad as long as you do it fucking well.

Shit, that was a boring topic for non-writers. Sorry. I promise next time I'll talk about sex or Britney Spears or dropping things out of windows.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wading through

My head feels like a balloon, I have crazy arms and there are 22 tabs open in my browser. Michelle "el ee double gee oh double tee" and the following list of library search queries have something to do with it:

Language theory
Language theory literature
Language preservation
Language poetics
Language creativity
Language meaning
Language metaphor
Language modernism
Language post-modernism
Language realism
Language, death of

And I haven't even been to the library yet!
That last one is a lie, but I might have to try it and see what comes up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Viva la résistance!

I wrote something today. Another in the history series. Most of them have started with no titles. When I'm done I read back over them and find they fit perfectly in the series. Isn't that weird?

I'm reading Jame Longenbach's The Resistance to Poetry (2004, University of Chicago Pr. ISBN 0226492494). I won't go into everything he's discussed, but I will say he really is putting into context some of those things I didn't know I was doing. Like line lengths (Am I Williams or Pound?), disjunction of ideas/images and unreliable voices (Louise Gluck is apparently the master of this). These are things I should think about this year and refine I think, not necessarily change how I use them, but become more aware of why I use them and maybe not use them where it's not working.

I've also more or less decided to do my reading package on the nature of language, i.e. essays, poems, stories around the unreliablity of words. I find it kind of interesting that some people are so obsessed with using words as exact nuggets of reference when it seems to me they are never static. I think there is enough controversy in there to get a discussion going. Should writers subvert the meanings of words, should they reinforce the meaning? Longenbach summed it up very nicely in a balanced way, which I think is the way I would like to approach it, but I'm sure there must be other critics out there who are poles apart on this.

I read something the other day about how poets veer away from abstract words because they signify combinations of less complex words and therefore poets use simple, solid, saxon words. Not true really unless you classify poets as Williams and his followers. I can't quite remember where I read it though. Shit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I haven't written a damn fucking thing today. I played around with some of the stuff I wrote last week and probably made them worse. I'm going to put it down to being sick with the flu. Brain is out of whack or something. It's only 9.30 though. I guess the day isn't over yet, but I can just tell that it is a write-off. I think I'll do some reading to calm me down.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Once upon a girl...

I have just read Johanna Aitchison's book, A long girl ago (VUP, 2007. ISBN 9780864736590) mainly because Chris recommended it. I was talking to a friend of mine who helps edit a magazine called Hue and Cry because they had selected some of her stuff for it and I mentioned that she was on my reading list. He said he wasn't really a fan (I presume the other editor was and he lost that particular battle). For some reason I didn't ask him why or maybe I did and have forgotten what he said. Anyway, it obviously didn't stop me reading it, but maybe lowered my expectations a little. I was curious though, as to why my tutor, who knows the kind of things that tick my boxes and a friend whose opinion I also deeply respect had such different recommendations.

After reading the whole thing from cover to cover I think I am beginning to see why. It seems Johanna has (at least) two modes of, or approaches to, poetry and at one point she shows that explicity by writing about the same topic the same scene in two different poems right next to each other on the page! One mode seems to be more accesible narrative driven work like at home:
The rain comes in sheets
across the perfect view.
The ocean's slab

of slate. There's the smell
of roast pumpkin,
potatoes. Your mother

is pulling the legs off
a chicken, arranging
stuffing on a plate.
The only poeticising there, comes from the line breaks really. Other than that it is a pretty straight up account of going home for Christmas. A poem straight out of the tradition on NZ domestic poetry. I didn't really get a sense of deeper meaning from this poem. Other than dislocation and maybe that the journey home may have been across the world. But yeah.

The other ones she writes are like miss red meets novel-in-a-box:

She, like this place.
was almost too beautiful to be real.


'What a lovely place,' said Miss Red.
'I never knew there was such places.'


'I thought you were dead,' she whispered.
He cast an amused look.
It goes on like this with section headings of key points in the story 'at cross-purposes with mr nakagawa', 'strange dream' and ends with 'the bad news'. It is a lovely, strange take on story telling and a bit like a Raymond Carver story in it's brevity and humour. I loved this one so much more. It had questions, obtuseness, humour, self-awareness. I wonder why she writes in both modes or is this book a map of her progression as a writer? Which way is she going?

Other ones I liked are if you're going (for its beautiful expanding ending and strange form) and japanese princess (for the way she has used the language of ESOL students). I also liked the smell calls out hot. This one is the one I mentioned earlier with it's much more realist sister on the preceding page, called bread shed. Even the titles seem to point this out. They both describe the scene in a bakery shop where it sounds like the narrotor is working. She works through this scene in the first poem like this:
Outside light creeps in gradually.
'It's time to put your toasties on!'
Doreen sings. Jack Johnson's singing,
'Where'd all the good people go-
o-oh?' on More FM All-nighter.
And in the second one the same stuff happens, but all mixed up, in a fragmentary almost non-sensical stream of images and language:
lost cream licks back
lip-tipped finger catches
on the bag of he he

GOOD morning whips
into road workers'
fluorescent torsos

new zealand post lady
rushes in red and black
sugar of a scatter bun
Strange that she put both of these in. I wonder if it is to point out that she is only a writer and we are the readers, so we should get both, love both, hate both, love one/hate the other and it's not up to her to decide, it's up to us? I suspect though she thought they both stood on their own and perhaps the second one needed the first to explain it or something? I'll have to ask her if I ever meet her. I don't agree with that last point though, I think the smell calls out hot is slightly undercut by having read bread shed first. I felt a bit cheated. I would have cut bread shed even though it is a well written poem.

I wrote something this morning by writing down some Charles Simic poems as he read them out on the recording of a radio interview he did. They aren't really found poems. I am not a fast typer (and not a fast absorber of performed poetry) so the output is fragmented, non-sensical in some places in others taking on new meanings, some words are heard wrong, some words are spelt wrong. I guess the question is, are they something new, are they worth publishing? What is worth publishing? Is Charles Simic the creative force in this poem? Am I? Is the reader? I'll show it to someone and find out hopefully.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Funny how?

On my reading list this year is a writer called Fanny Howe. I had never heard of her before and quite frankly she has a funny name. Chris suggested I read her, so last week at the library I found her 'Selected Poems' book (2000, University of California Pr, L.A.).

I'm not really sure what to say about it, or really where to start. She does so many things differently. Maybe I'll list them:

  • Short lyrics (most around 10-20 lines) which is not unusual, but how the usually just end, almost like they are unfinished, or the reader is unfinished is quite unique. She catches us off balance, in the throes of scrabbling.
  • She doesn't go for titles, maybe because the poems don't have any. Why do we enforce titles on poems anyway? For most people they seem to be an afterthought or an explanation.
  • Most of her poems seem exploratory, which is not unusual either, but it is the way that she goes about it. Throwing in spirituality with animals, family, politics and sexual images in such a short space is mysterious and difficult and yet, she always manages to find a something good to end on. Not an answer, but a question. Or like we have figured out the question (have we?), which is where the satisfaction comes from. Like this corker:
    Sallying off to the pub

    over cowpads and dung
    I was only describing
    the person I'd become:

    --a disturbed equilibrium
    --individual of unre-Marxed belief system

    But those were motives, not a defense.
  • Some of them have no narrative or imagistic sense whatsoever, but seem to be carried along by the music.
    Hello eternal life in the light
    of Dublin sunrise.
    Hope carries me as-iffing
    up the hefty gaps.
    Sudden dreams planted to what end?
    Fertile as worms? Headless?
  • Others show a linguistic, syntactical inventiveness.
    When was when
    we knew that what
    we knew
    for the first time
    we knew
    would be disproved
    by the end and then found
    to be true again.

Her stuff is incredibly intriguing, each little nugget has it's own mysteries and as I work through the book. Her common concerns and images will become little nuggets too I think. Thanks Chris.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Passing through (to the other side?)

Dia comes from the Greek word to mean 'passing through'. And Michelle Leggott's take on that in her 1994, AUP book of poetry is unusual in the context of poetry.

The first two sections are highly experimental and graphical, so much so that I found myself skimming over them, looking for the real word-driven pieces to appear. I liked them though, possibly more the look of them than the poems themselves. Something I would put on my wall rather than read in a book perhaps. Particularly Micromelismata which is a poem written to the exact structure of an ASCII art depiction of a pair of lips. It did look cool.

Anyway the next section, Blue Irises, is a good half to two thirds of the book and consists of a series of sonnets. Well I call them sonnets because they are 14 lines long. Most of them have numbered titles (a few with names) implying that they are standalone pieces. However after reading about 10 of these you begin to realise that they sort of run on into each other, some more obviously than others, and start reading it as one long poem.

I couldn't help wanting each one to stand on its own though. Some I think did and some didn't. She has a very syntactically confusing style. Some lines seem to link up with the next, other don't connect at all in either an syntactical, imagistic or logical way. I found this distancing at times. A few lines grabbed straight away however, even though they made no real sense. Maybe on further reading I would get more of these. This one in particular:
I am the parabola, a crural bow strung
across the single point of my dripping ascent
Not as plains that spread into us slowly, but as
a wind wet with carillons or winter's cold isthmus
I think both those passages show a classical skill with music and rhythm. Particularly that second one reminds of a Robert Frost line (or maybe I'm confusing Frost with someone else?).

Anyone her work seems like an abstract collage of phrases and words (some made up?) rather than a collage of images and I think that is one thing that would make this work really jump to life for me. The odd image or piece of dialogue or something to cling to in the storm. That sounds like me forcing my own poetics on it, and I am, but what else can I do.

I can understand why this book won the Montana prize, it is incredibly inventive, smart and supple. And I think the work towards the end of the book really hinted at Michelle's work to come. Particularly the last poem that uses much, much shorter lines. The sentiments and abstraction are the same, but for some reason those shorter lines and smaller stanzas give us time to absorb and delight in each twist and turn and also discover some new ones with the syncopated rhythm and the way that three words on their own can mean something different when taken out of the context of their enveloping sentence.

Of course, that poem does not have the sonnet structure and the heavy classical music and I can see why she explored both, but for me, all considerations of awe aside, I simply enjoyed the last two sections of the book much more. I felt elated and excited while reading each line and had that equal ? and ! thing at the end. With the sonnet poems I felt like I was wading through each line, looking for little gems which sometimes came and sometimes didn't and at the end I was more relieved than anything else.

I'll be getting more of her books for sure. Maybe some of her later ones and some of her earlier ones.

Shit, I've gone way over time.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poems in series and Lloyd Jones comes by

My two new Michael Palmer books have arrived, The Promises of Glass and Company of Moths. I'm working my way through the former. I won't go into a full discussion until I've finished reading it perhaps. Except I will just say that I am using it for inspiration before I write and in that sense it seems to have worked for me so far.
I wrote a poem in my now two part 'History' series. This is new ground for me. Palmer is right into this kind of thing and I love that about him and I am starting to see how he makes it work. I'm referring to his 'Autobiography' series which I think he kind of uses as place holder titles or maybe jumping off points, because I get the feeling he thinks of all, or at least significant amount of, poetry as autobiogrpahical and so this gives him a warrant to write virtually anything he wants and that is why they work, because the poems in the series are completely different in almost every way. Very cool. I might be wrong about his thinking on this, but it is how I like to think about it anyway.

So confidence is high today.

Lloyd Jones talked to our class yesterday. Damien tried to direct the conversation around his experience with short fiction and he talked alot about his personal move to put more emphasis on 'voice' over detail. I think he was trying to say he is experimenting more with the internal mind as much as the external world. Although it wasn't completely clear what he meant by 'voice'. I don't think he is alone in that and whenever anyone discusses voice I get quite confused about what they actually mean, so much so I don't think I really like the term in literature any more. Eeek, that is a bold opinion for such a novice.

He also talked, or should I say was interrogated, on the nature of truth, accuracy and fact in fiction and non-fiction. I was relieved to find he didn't have any answers on that, except to say that he writes fiction and that anything and possibly everything in his books is fictionalised. And I agree that he has a right to write in that manner if he wishes. It would be a scary world if writers had constraints about what they could and could not fictionalise. I find it a bit perplexing that people need certainty around this issue. I quite like the idea that everyone has differnt ideas about truth and factuality and that there is no golden rule and a kind of uncertainty about what is being written these days. And of course debate is always good.

So he was a nice guy and told us about his meeting an ageing Queen and being stuck on the mouse wheel of UK celebrity publishing promotion. Apparently Geri Haliwell made a speech at the UK Book Awards. I wonder what the organisers were thinking when they decided she would be better than some lowly nobel prize winner.
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