Contributor Notes

Contributor Notes For Issue #11

Arkava Das:  hey greg. when i was a kid i had this tremendous anxiety. let’s say it has just rained and i am out on a walk w/ my (now dead) grandfather. there’s a line of bright yellow houses to our rt. i can’t even begin to look at them. i am afraid i’ll go crazy if i look at them. they are so other-worldly (many things grew other-worldly later. during adolescence. women. people from other countries (i used to look at them from a distance and i had no frame of reference to connect with them. i remember being envious of a friend because he had meaningful conversations w/ “foreigners” ) later it would be/ has become people in my country.) but this was before all those minute/ precise anxieties i would have to plod through. this was simpler, more diffuse. look at it long enough and you’ll go crazy. same reason i hadn’t seen the full moon properly before i entered my teens. fear of losing my mind. of course, now i know better. it was just some sense of dislocation sublimed and sublimed. but you get where i am coming from. the struggle has really led to a temporary peace of sorts. the process of darkening, of unanchored seeing. i don’t know where i would be w/o it or at least memories/ superpositions of it. how beautifully you describe the evening. 

Arka lives in Delhi, India with his wife Nidhi, and his father. Most of his poems owe something to the fact that the poet is bilingual—something that involves balancing two possible worlds. Major influence: Will Alexander, Jibananda Das, Vasubandhu. Works at a test prep faculty.

Leanne Drapeau:  Leanne Drapeau lives in Hartford, CT. When she is not teaching English at a local high school, she can be found going from café to café and stealing people’s stories line by line. Her writing process often starts with a few words or a phrase, which help unlock a sealed personal narrative. As the narrative breaks open, surreal and impressionistic elements emerge and the result is often a collage of realism and mysticism. Her poetry tends to settle on the outside of things – on the periphery – in the dark and dripping corners of a Dali or Bosch. She loves in-betweens like spring, fall, and twilight (the time of day, not the young adult novel) and finds much of her inspiration in the other side of loss, where the itching of healing begins.

I’m sure this issue is full, and I don’t even know if you’d want to consider this one, but it was written in the same series as “This Is How It Will Be” and “Mourning”. Might be interesting to see them all together. It’s interesting to me also to see my meditations on grief from last summer. My cousin died unexpectedly June 30, my father died this year on June 23rd. Those mourning poems are helping me tremendously, actually, to process this even closer loss…. A note on Pam’s analysis of At The End of The World: Seagulls flying inland is an early sign of a very bad storm.  Disaster and devastation, or at the very least an altered and diminished world is what the final line reveals, and so, what the parting of the two implies.  Of course, seagulls fly inland to nest as well.

William Fairbrother:  William Fairbrother was born April 10th, 1956, 10:10 pm.  The hospital in La Jolla, California, where he was born quickly turned into a mental hospital.  He has recently returned home from a twenty year stay in Denmark.  Having arrived home with little cash, he looked for work, but ended up broke and in a homeless shelter in Sacramento.  His sister called the police after he went missing for a while;  and a friend finally found him, and secured him a job as an assistant librarian at Rudolf Steiner College.  He got another part-time job soon after, helping a nice German lady archive her book collection, and another part-time job at nights cooking for an organic restaurant. From zero to eleven hour work-days in under a month.  Yi-ha!  But all of the jobs are finished come August, so if you know of a cooking job, he’s quite the gun.

His favorite authors are Chekhov, Rozanov, Schlovsky, Platinov, Rimbaud, Mallarme, Voltaire, Baudelaire, Tzara, Trakl, Calvino, Campana, Borges, Marquez, Oe, Ippen, Thoureau, Swift, Donne, Shakespeare, Breton, Marvell, Thurber, Dahlberg, Vico, Beckett, Wittgenstein, Marinetti, Husserl, Tutuola, Poe, Bernstein, Christensen, Andersen, Krommer, Rousseau, Lettau, Grass, Ball, Suzuki, Ortega y Gasset, Olsen, Stein, Pound, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Olsen, Stapleton… (in no particular order) [he tells me he loves going thru lists just like this, if the writing of the person making such a list interests him, he may track down the names he didn’t quite make out, he may even finally read those he only knows by name…]

Three short stories everyone should read:  “Agafya”, Chekhov.  “I Stand Here Ironing”, Tillie Olsen.  “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, Borges.  (that all adds up to less than an hour well spent, and this list is in order – the Chekhov is gold)…

Most recent favorite novels:  “Memories of My Melancholy Whores”, G. G. Marquez (‘infinitely better than “One Hundred Years of Solitude”‘ he says);  “1Q84”, Murakami… (‘cool main(streaming((lining))SF…’); though not a novel, Will and Muriel Durant’s ‘Age of Voltaire’ or whatever it’s called – ‘like reading today’s headlines, maybe soon head-less lines…’

Last dream of an escape:  Tahiti.  (Strange – like all dreams)

Next huge occurrence:  Purchasing a car… Road’s the limit! (may get a license first, haven’t legally driven in decades…)

[[Now, see, this is where the NSA has flags all over me, eh?]](pretending to be Canadian doesn’t help…)

He thinks he writes Symbolism.

He writes like a child, a child who has been continuously writing these past 40 years… writing as habit… well-read, but so what – maybe it’s all jumbled regurgitation?  Primo, where’s the invention?

His mind, (he carries insects out of the commercial kitchens he works in, being Buddhist) – is no-mind.

Caught ya floating there, matey!

Stop Stop Stop – enough about me – I am a creature of embarrassment…

Greg Grummer:  The whole project of poetry is questionable. I firmly believe poetry exists, and that it will have its way. But I’m confused as to what its way is and what our role in it is. This isn’t a crisis for poetry. Poetry will be. But I find it very confusing. I write poems but have almost no desire to get them published, or even do a poetry reading. So, am I really about poetry? I’m not sure how this can be.

Same with teaching literature. I don’t think I could teach a literature class with any seriousness and write at the same time.

Just steal some stuff.  Everything will work itself out.

Let’s see…Hard to say. No. No. Perhaps. Yes and no. We probably were sterile before the poem left. Maybe you don’t. Well, that line is called death, and it will come out, and then you will stop. So no need to worry about that. Yes.

Well, lordy. Since purpose doesn’t exist I don’t get its role in poetry. There’s lots more pottery in our art than purpose in our poetry, I guess is what I’m getting at. A dead machine iterating out into nothingness is poetry. Right after the loss of purpose is when writing sets in, and you stop writing. No one stands on top of a hill waving flags for no reason. No one, and all those who have joined her. And then some others set in and start waving too. Group poetry. But once engaged with purpose, then you have the Pope, and all the accumulated bravado that is so unlike being lucky in the first place. But to purpose, even if by accident, is much less than monumental. How could there be even a mote of purpose, and not have it make itself overly visible? I think purpose was fine hundreds of years ago, when it wasn’t understood as such, but was fratricidal. If you could get killed for your purpose, then maybe, just maybe. But as things stand now? I think you get the picture.

Zachary Scott Hamilton:  Zachary Scott Hamilton is candy stolen from a baby. The candy is the color of wine, looks like a French woman’s eyes. She is tired beyond her years. You put the candy in a shoe, because that’s what people do for Christmas in Germany. You forget about the candy, because you are not German.  [email protected]

Dave Mehler:  At the risk of causing Steve to I don’t know what, poems are more like pieces of soul than DNA—I don’t think our souls have DNA but may be an embedded memory of DNA? Supposedly the body is like clothing.  So let’s assume no DNA but the poem contains bits of identity and personality and idiosyncratic musing with language—it’s about mind not brain, consciousness and spirit not body but if you read it aloud the body is involved. Breath, pneuma etc. Why do you want it to get out? Because a poem is not complete without an audience—the audience may only be you, a process or an experience of thinking or thought, which is what I suspect Greg uses it for, but a poem for audiences as a spiritual practice goes way back or for culture/enculturation and the tribe. I believe there is something numinous/spiritual and religious about language in and of itself—the image of God in us. Don’t expect the rest of you to accept that. But one can’t think with any kind of hope of sophistication, abstraction or communication without language. All we have then are images—and they can do a lot but they can’t build computers or houses or domesticate plants and animals. Can they?

Steve, can’t remember how you phrased it but you asked something like, did I start writing poetry after wrecking my truck. The ‘Fueling at the Pilot’ poem to the contrary, I have never ‘wrecked’ my truck, which isn’t to say that I haven’t hit plenty of things and a few other things have hit me. The best one was the robin’s egg blue beetle that drove under my trailer.  I think I’ve already told everyone about that one several times. Damn what a clueless guy. I have committed several homicides with my motor vehicle but only to medium to small animals with IQs lower than 75. I started writing poetry before that but it all pretty much sucked before I got my CDL. People find muses in very strange and unexpected places.

Pamela O’Shaughnessy:  Are you afraid your poems will be dangerous to you if they get out, Greg? Is a poem like DNA, once it gets out it doesn’t care about the body that produced it any more, that body is superfluous, it is not the poet but the poem that lives on? Does it have a way of eating its way out or wanting to get born that is irresistible? Are we being scammed? Are we sterile once the Poem has left the body? Why do I want my poems read so much if they no longer have any connection with me after they come out? Why can’t I stop until that one Line comes out, the one that will live on? Should I have another cup of coffee?

I think that too. It’s like my friend Bruce who died this spring. He was a bluesman. He was so much a bluesman that bluesmen didn’t seem like bluesmen around him. He couldn’t help it, couldn’t control it, it was his passion and his life, it sprang straight from his life-energy, he never had a chance.

Yeah, I agree, the idea that anybody would do this stuff for the joy of singing just can’t be true. I know why I do it – unwillingness to die without leaving fossils for future archaeologists, even if they turn out to be coprologists. I insist in believing that if I write enough millions of words, the meaning of life will be revealed however accidentally in a few of them. Then the world can gratefully turn to its real task – mining through my musings to find it, for the rest of eternity. It’s a small ambition, I know…

Steve Parker:  I remember Nick Totton saying to me many years ago that when he started publishing a poetry magazine his own poetry dropped right off because it was like using all the same muscles but in a different way. Being a Reichian/Process guy, he came up with this example of sometimes one’s body needing to laugh or to cry, but not much minding which, but it can’t quite do both at the same time.

Live briefly and at random. Or read what you hate and despise. Internalize every image and every nexus of words. Steal all of it and send it out in a sky-mosaic of kites above your occupied land. Nick Totton was wrong. It uses no muscles. It eats its way out.

Thing about poetry, Pam, is that it is a bunch of symbols strung together and thrown out there to do something. If it has no purpose then it’s just a dead machine iterating out into nothingness, just an assumption of self-expected habit like religion. It always has to have a purpose. It can be a tiny purpose, but it has to be there. If you lose the purpose then you have no reason to write. No one stands on top of a hill waving flags for no reason. Not if they know there is no reason. Okay, cacapos might, or someone else might just as dead gestures, but not most people. Not saying anyone shouldn’t write, just that this might be something to do with a dropoff. The motive is the purpose and the purpose is the extension and the extension is the poem actually getting real. Apologies for pontificating.

J.R. Pearson:  I am working on a short story ATM with Sayer [his main character] and his entourage but the novel is still growing, eating my porkchops at night, and leaving all the lights on! As for my stuff, I’m not sure if it’s what you’re looking for. Some linked prose sonnets, some long undisciplined sprawls… which is my current discipline. The novel is killing my poetry as you mentioned to Zach… if you like them or think they have potential then you can scoop em up.  JR lives in Yuma, AZ.

Beth Vieira:   I read one of the emails you wrote to Pam that said something about how, while this essay is very tightly contained within haiku aesthetics, that it applies to other aspects of poetry as some people practice it.  I agree and had that in mind when I was writing.  Not all poetry has to be “intersubjective”, but I do think this perspective adds something to the dialogue that I think could be helpful for both readers and writers. Indirectly I’m taking up an aspect of post-modernism because, though I didn’t push it in the essay, “intersubjectivity” is a post-modern or rather “constructivist” notion developed into a whole school of contemporary psychology. It off-sets nihilism or capitulation to the market. It honors something that seems more old fashioned—intimacy. But it also takes up things like Adrienne Rich’s arguments about the public role of the poet to articulate larger concerns than just what can be handled in typical lyrical first person poetry or even in overtly political poetry or again in ostensibly experimental poetry. To simply acknowledge the “co-construction” while seemingly simple to say is actually more difficult to achieve. The essay doesn’t say this, but I had to search tons to find examples that I could use because the vast majority simply didn’t do what I was describing. Anyway, a conversation that could go on….

Don Zirilli: Most journal editors are poets. I thought all were. Yes, I have a conflict. And something is definitely cutting into my poetry, though I can’t be sure what. It’s definitely bleeding, though. I’m trying to heal it by making a book. Steve says I have one good poem, but he won’t tell me what it is. I am the editor of Now Culture, or Cow Vulture, or Now Comics. I like irrelevant old things like Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens. I live in a cottage in New Jersey. I never quite get everything right.



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