Distribution Automatique

Thursday, June 2

Radical Druid Asks:

1. Do you write with the intent of submitting (and getting published)? Is that your primary objective in writing poetry (publishing to print media, or online journals, or other outlets [i.e., contests, prizes, etc.])?

I fell in love wtih the printed page at an early age. So I
always wanted to see my writing in print and be a part
of the vast libraries of books I loved so much as a child.
My earliest poems were imitations
of my favorite poets:
A.E. Housmnan and Thomas Gray,
poets I read in the high school anthology.
Though I heard e.e.cummings and Lewis Warsh read in college in NY in the early 60's, I didn't
discover many of my favorite contemporaries
until the middle to late 60's and on to the 70's. Meanwhile, I had strongly pulled away from trying to publish, when certain late 60's
anti-ego values became attractive to me. At this point, my social concerns and anti-war activities, and a concommitant quest for answers
to personal concerns submerged
aesthetic concerns in favor of wanting and needing to understand things-to answer life's
questions. Jackson Mac Low's poetry became an inspiration and challenge, as did the work of John Ashbery, the work and teaching
of Bernadette Mayer and the
work of Robert Smithson and Vito Acconci.
It wasn't until I began to give readings
after participating in Bernadette Mayer's
workshop in the early 70's that I again
started to get a handle on where poetry and publishing might fit into my life after my lttle bit
of publishing poems in the middle 60's. I see now that my love of abstraction in poetry and art,
but my simultaneous interest in
psychology and philosphy just
wouldn't mesh to a point that I
could see a way for my many
extremely varied experiments
to arrive in print; though I was very
interested in (but still shy about
at first) reading them aloud when invited.
The issue for me was that my poems
were meant to be stationary
points in the frequently conflctual
currents of experience and thought;
they felt like part of a personal
project that I couldn't easily frame
within a public persona.
While all of this was intensely
problematic career wise, my
relative obscurity seemed to
allow an internal fanning
of the flame of my poetic
concerns and interests,
in the same way that my
avoidance of academic
employment helped me to
remain enthusiastic about
literature in general, or so it
seemed. I guess I really didn't
want to professionalize my
writing interests. Eventually,
after discovering some ideas
in the work of Paul Valery,
working with poetics offered a
method for dealing with such
concerns that paralleled my
use of psychoanalysis in
working with my personal
issues and those of others-
an approach that seemed more
constructive to me; these were
modes of connecting my
experiences and activities
with others that still allowed
my poetic process to remain
somewhat private,. Presenting my writing
to others has consistently created
personal challenges for me,
even at times seemingly
insurmountable challenges
and conflcts in terms of my inner
concerns with the issues in the work
itself. I never liked the emotionally
cumbersome process of arranging
and submitting my work for
publcation, though I certainly
enjoyed and benefitted from
seeing my works in print when
they were published and
having them available in an
attractive and convenient way
to readers. As I've said countless
times now, and never seem to tire of
saying, weblogging and the web in
general have, for the first time, made
available some of the rapidity and availability of interaction and response, combined
with the "automatic" archiving and
record-keeping, that I've always
longed for. One of my collages in the 80's was titled *Distribution Automatique.*
The other part of the publishing/critical
reviewing system I didn't appreciate was the academicism, a quality in
intellectual life I have had a problem with since my honors courses in college. I'm uncomfortable with
pretentiousness and afraid and worried about seeing
it increase in myself; though
I cerainly enjoy the satisfactions
and pleasures of eperiencing
my own and others'
successes in doing artistic work