Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Steve Tills: So, HA!, that’s another “Pure,” and they both exist, of course, HA!

Alan Casline:
I wanted to meet on Sunday April 15th. I was indifferent to where we met. Although e-mail works fine, I find more can be accomplished face-to-face ( large percentage of total communication being unspoken and the word play which cannot be duplicated otherways) John Roche told me about this Phelps Poetry Reading: {Sunday April 15, 2012 at 2 PM: Poetry Afternoon at Phelps Arts Center, 15 Church Street, Phelps, featuring Steve Tills, Sally Bittner Bonn, Lori Nolasco, and Patricia Roth Schwartz, free, refreshments.] It looked good and as it turned out was perfect as lead-in to the meeting of myself, John, Stephen Lewandowski and Ken Warren held after the reading to discuss all things Cloudburst.  In a scene I expect to repeat a few times on the way to the Naples gathering I got to meet Pat Schwartz for the first time and thus we could both say how we had heard so much about each other. I had met Steve Tills a few times but it was a great expansion to hear his poems read and Patrica Roth Schwartz also had poetic subject matter beyond the guessed at. The part about it being a great lead-in was because both Pat and Steven are coming to Cloudburst and are co-founders of a a venture, Literary Guild of the Finger Lakes, which is using the Phelps Arts Center as one of their nestings spots and sponsored the reading. 

                                            Steve Tills    April 15, 2012  at Phelps Art Center

                                    Patricia Roth Schwartz    April 15,2012  at Phelps Arts Center

Steve hung with us after the reading but had to leave after a while. We started a conversation about poetry on the page and poetry read to others, The conversation continued the next day via e-mail, Seems to be relevant and as everyone gave me permission ( and with a little editing) here is a recounting...

Steve Tills:   e-mail 4/16/2012 
Thank you so much, you guys, coming to the reading yesterday ( Alan Casline, John Roche, Ken Warren). It was a great pleasure to get that kind of opportunity to have you three “hear” what those “objects on a Page” “sound like” from “this person,” in this case “the writer of them,” as opposed to “the Pure experience” of “taking them in SOLELY ‘from the Page,’” where I always believe they are SUPPOSED TO BE, FIRST, FOREMOST, and perhaps even, ideally, SOLELY – and yet, there’s the alternative “Pure,” which is that it’s good to hear how the pomer, himself (in this case, me), means for that page experience to be read, needs “live Readings” to give a bit more cue as to how the rhythms and inflections and such “should go.”  So, HA!, that’s another “Pure,” and they both exist, of course, HA!
 All part of my ongoing obsession with “addressing” and rock solid belief that a given poetry should neither need its author’s VOICE, GOOD LOOKS (who would a listener most trust, fellow in blue jeans and old t-shirt, slick looking corporate guy with three-piece suit, professorial fellow with tweed jacket and rumpled clothes, suggesting he stays up late at night and composed his poetry from old-fashioned library-study with on old-fashioned typewriter; gorgeous female in string bikini, frumpy old woman in frumpy old clothes, spiked haired Goth girl with multiple face spikes/piercings, right-wing woman in church clothes?), BODY GESTURES, REPUTATION, or ANYTHING ELSE, nor WANT those kinds of things in fact “interfering” with “a pure interaction” with the page by a private reader in solitary surrounds.  AND, of course, there are all kinds of contradictions to these Concerns, and we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of these issues (some of which are NOT even NECESSARILY contradictions at all) for years…  (Personally, and perhaps obviously, I am always of the persuasion that “a given poming” should never require “extra-textural” accompaniment, hence “resides” on the page, blah blah blah, ad infinitum…)

John Roche     e-mail 4/16/2012
You're most welcome, Steve. Really enjoyed your stuff. Of course, we disagree on the "SOLELY 'from the page" thing--too New Critical for my taste. Everything's inextricably wrapped up with the voice and gesture and what Walt called "Personalism" of the poet, even when it gives the fish 'n' chips a bit of the smell of yesterday's news that stays news. But the nose knows, hopefully, what's fit to eat, and your homefried pomings are delish!


PS Diner was closed so we ended up at old hotel in center of Phelps. Walked out cause the menu was a bit dear, but maitre 'd ran out to tell us of 2 for 10 specials (what Alan calls the "locals' menu"). Pretty decent food, and a touch of class for planning our classless society.

Steve Tills    e-mail 4/16/2012
You’re right.  It DOES smack very much of “New Critical” and it’s part of long, ongoing “debate,” too, I suspect/suppose or just plain kind of know.

I think that we’ll be discussing it the rest of our lives.  In ways, I think it’s probably ALSO a false dichotomy, but then even as “that” endlessly useful, since, where it (or anything else that) leads one to write things is really the bottom line.  What gets on to the page, by whatever means.

But some of these things are so very BASIC, too: What is written should not ever NEED a person there to substitute extra-textural “emotion” or “decoration” or various other outside distractions to sell its MEANING.  If the words and/or other machinery of items, including page space and scoring of same on the page do NOT deliver EVERYTHING that is necessary and self-sufficient, then the object there, and THERE TO BE REGARDED, is another kind of object altogether, and to varying degree, maybe even “fails,” for it depends on all kinds of things that apparently “the poems” do not or cannot equal or constitute.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different kind of writing, a writing that is a part of something else.

But also the more obvious problems: If we get the Stones and the Beatles as back up band, the “what’s on the page” has VERY LITTLE it actually needs to DO, as the back up band will imbue it with all the appeal and meaning and it (“lacks” on its own?) to “transfer energy,” to actualize the object’s being. (I know that that sounds strange and high-falutin, but it’s not meant to be – it’s just, again, my way of arguing FOR a kind of “actualization of (meaning?) poetic object that, in this case, desires FULL separation from ALL extra-textual sub-particles, including (in Purest form, and here’s where I get really onto the edge of what I may someday find is complete nothingness, something that doesn’t even exist) unconscious, as well as deliberate “allusion” to other texts, poets, poming, etc.

There’s WAY TOO MUCH on this subject to talk about here, though, AND, frankly, I am fully aware that these are long-existing OBSESSIONS  of my own that may not have anything to do with ANYBODY’s stuff, HA, just blah blah and all…

You’ll probably have to listen to me obsess about it all for many years, anyhow, though.  And then in between, we’ll all just “do poems” and all-inclusive “actualizations” of “poetry” anyways, fool ourselves about WHAT has value and meaning and worth and grooviness, forever, anyways…

Alan Casline   e-mail  4/16/2012
 This subject has been well debated at the Poets' Corner although the conversation often comes around to then the debate about audience and who validates your work. I am in the middle in that I think both presentations (oral and on the page) are important. I never get miffed at those who claim the printed poem is primary and I do get irritated at the other view when taken to the extreme as in 'Only the Spoken Word is Poetry" I think a lot of my poetry is better when you can see it on the page but I have also taken advise and tried to improve my reading of poetry to an audience.. For any of my poems done in projected verse when reading I try to use the spaces in the field as cues as to pausing, speeding-up and otherwise spacing out my vocalization  I consider all my poems to be one breath to one line, which I consider almost a standard way of going from the written line to spoken.  I hear the poem in my head and do not at all understand those poets who say, "I have to read the poem out loud to judge the poem's success" and also "If I stumble in reading then that shows a place where the poem should be rewritten." When I am reading another poet's poem I will ask, "Is it one breath to one line?" if they say "no", then I ask "Does the poem follow the punctuation like stop at a period, etc."  The vast majority of the time the answer to that is also "no". Which leaves the poem just there to be read any which-way. What I then will do is read their poem more-or-less as the ideas appeal to me. Other times I try and read the whole poem in one long breath. Which is fun and sometimes I will even forgo my own line breaks and do the same with one of my poems. The problem I have with one breath to one line is I can easily read a longer line than the page allows. To be true to this and not be constrained by page width I should be writing with the page turned so one line can be 11 inches long not just 8.5 inches. It would look just too odd and be hard to publish and so I have never made that switch.

Steve Tills     e-mail   4/19/2012
And especially, as ANY KIND of “prescription” like “one line for one breath” COMPLETELY LIMITS what can be accessed/actualized that would then be any given writer’s actualization of the given poetic object(s).  I mean, heck, it’s as preposterous as believing that only iambic pentameter can be employed.  At least, for me, I see it as such an obvious limit.  And I will never believe an abstraction like “only what originates from the breath” gets to, or comes from, “the heart,” “the soul,” “the body,” the full body/mind” or anything of the sort. 

Hey, Olson and others may indeed have succeeded in “freeing” “the poem” from the New Critical EXTREME that had, say, robbed poetry of its vitality and such, but surely they then “also” “may” have locked it in to other EXTREMES.  Or not…  It’s all up to endless debate and discussion, of course. And there are endless “contradictions” and “splits” and dichotomies (some “false” and some “real” and ALL merely, as well as magically, just “words” and other items that the singular “Human” “Unconscious” infinitely provides and endlessly creates) that anybody and her four sisters can “take off from” to endlessly explore the human condition and “what is Meaningful” in any given moment, era, split second, wink-of-an-eye, period, century, or geologic epoch.  IMO…  Blah blah, ad infinitum…

Personally, I am usually (but not always) inclined to use the page, and especially “line-breaking,” to “torque” meaning(s) and possibilities as they occur in the “process” of “theenking” (or otherwise “play it by ear”), and, at the same time, I know THAT, too, can and will “naturally” become “a limit” (and in fact I ALSO make stuff that “actively resists and declines ALL torquing and the use of line-breaking, sometimes, as well) if it gives over to some idea that it is THE ONLY THING that I might like to do, in writing.  (I.e., there can be “too much” “torquing,” when such a compulsion may become a fetish and get in the way of writing “something” that doesn’t/wouldn’t “happen” because I might be WAY TOO INVESTED in “following THAT muse’s ‘habituated’ compulsions” (or that “bitch’s confused indulgences” or *******s), but, let’s face it, there won’t be time enough in life to DO EVERYTHING, so best, I guess, CHOOSE a few things that one likes to do, that one does well, and that one gets some fulfillment from, and, really, we’ll all just do the best we can, regardless that Shakespeare, Olson, Homer, Gomer, Emily, Gertrude, Ezra, Wallace, Frank, Hilda, Milton, Sappho, and the rest of the old pros may chew us out for when we get up or down there to Pomer Heaven (if, of course, they aren’t too busy chewing each other out from their respective neighborhoods in the Collective Unconscious that they’ve so bravely staked out for themselves and us before we get there).

Alan Casline   email  4/19/2012
And one can have a love of limitation as per this poem from my 64 Changes & heart and hand are in there too


It is necessary to set limits
even upon limitation.
Discriminations are the backbone of reality.
What good is the plowed earth
without the hand to set out seed?
What good is the house
without the heart to establish rest?

Tending life requires care
and measured energy.


John Roche     email  4/19/2012

Yes, agree with Steve-Tills-His-Garden: Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom!

But do I have to weed between every damn one?

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