Thursday, October 13, 2005

I have some new work in Cue, which subtitles itself A Journal of Prose Poetry. The type on the cover itself is all but unreadable, orange on white in a little patch of space that is not otherwise intensely (almost painfully) orange. Inside, however, it is all quite readable, tho it is worth noting that only a few contributors (Michael Schiavo, Deborah Bernhardt, Janet Kaplan) interpret the concept of “prose poetry” to mean something other than “Block O’ Type.” For the rest, “prose” = “paragraph.” Yet one possible, even plausible, interpretation of the prose poem would trace its roots back not through the eruption of paragraphs onto the page verse built (aided, no doubt, by the spatial or field compositional techniques of the likes of Pound), but rather syntactically & tonally to Alexander Pope, who may deploy all the exoskeletal features of verse, but whose tongue is prose indeed.

I also have some work and an interview in The Argotist, which has evolved over the years from a print magazine into a web site – which is to say that editor Jeffrey Side is more concerned with content than with periodicity. So he appears to have broken with the metaphor of the magazine on the site pretty much completely.

I’m ambivalent about interviews. I read those of others voraciously. Indeed, there are more than a few poets, including Quietists & some neo-Beats, quasi-Punks & slammers, where I would much rather read an interview than I would the work itself. At the same time, I feel intensely irritated by my own interviews. If one takes serious questions seriously – and I try to – it’s hard in that forum not to come off sounding like John Houseman, the essence of posturing, hollow authority. I can understand why somebody as intensely private as Bob Dylan tends to give out only b.s. to interviewers.

And one has to beware the hostile interviewer. I’ve certainly seen some that can be read as attacks, either through prosecutorial questions or, worse yet, questions that really are probes for personal gossip. In this regard, I’ve been enormously fortunate over the years. I think I might be an easy target for that sort of interviewer, but possibly I come across to them as just too dull for parody anyway. About the worst I’ve had to deal with were interviewers who had never heard of (to pick concrete examples) Charles Olson or Louis Zukofsky & who couldn’t spell Allen Ginsberg.

I once heard a newspaper interviewer up in Bangor ask Omar Pound, “So, what kind of commie was your father, anyhow?” The look on Omar’s face is something I will not soon forget.

Tom Vogler has been a good & generous reader over the years, and someone who knows the work is the very best kind of interlocutor, I’ve found. Even with Tom, as you will see, at least one of the questions (the last one) surprised me. But that is what comes from inside one’s own writing, one’s own head, all of your life. What seems obvious to you turns out to be a puzzlement to others.

I co-interviewed Geof Huth for Tom Beckett’s weblog with Crag Hill not so long ago, the first time I’ve been on the far side of this process. That was humbling, precisely because it made me conscious of just how much prep work is required to do this properly. I was fortunately in that, when Tom asked me initially about the project, I suggested doing it with Crag, whom I’ve known for over 20 years, and whose knowledge of vispo is encyclopedic.



I don’t always agree with Jakob Nielsen’s concepts of usability, which often confuse ugly with useable. Still, it would be not be the worst idea in the world for every web designer (and by inference, every blogger) to pay heed to his annual roster of worst web design mistakes.