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From: "Tom Taylor" <>
Organization: PSU Cramer Hall
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Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 15:43:11 PST
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...the poem is a "breathing organic piece of existence".  But, if we pursue
this line of thought we'll wind up with poem as some sort of signal
transduction, won't we, means by which signals from the outside world are
passed to living cells.  It begins as an affirmation of the organic, but
moves towards the mechanistic.  Not to mystify any of this, ignore the
electrochemical, proprioceptive, tactile gnosis of the senses and the cells.

Jim Leftwich


A sentence is in fact a transfer of energy from subject to verb.  

As experienced.  The poem is in fact an encoded experiential diagram 
interposed between you and your literacy and the raw bleeding fantasm of the 
present moment, terrifying in its narrowness, if you've ever been mad enough 
to be "in and of the moment", it's no high, it's hell, it's prison, it's the smallest 
kind of two-dimensional space; and so we have this agreement not to go Too 
far, and so you give me your trust and we go through a gradual dropping of 
your guard, one word at a time, one new, disjunktive disconnection after 
another, I gradually open up to you and Slam, you get to communicate with 
me, and you know it, and you give what you have to give whether you want to 
or not, transparent as you are, a poem is an event and thus subject to the laws and 
descriptions of events as they are; events do not occur in a vacuum they 
occur in a cosmos which itself is event, and as you grow into it you come to see 
the event as life itself and gradually become the event, you become the event, 
you become the poem, you become the cosmos.  That's the drill.  
"Life is the poem" (Vincent Ferrini)

If we are all speaking private languages, getting the message involves 
decoding, involves reading the unspoken cues which are cosmic within what 
one feels of the choices of the words made and not made, in the so-called 
diction of the moment you are revealed to me, for you are so transparent I can read 
you where you stand, and you me, and that is what we shy away from, at least 
in the diction of shared symbols, one can hide behind the meter of the moment--
you see, it is all time and space manipulation, and in that small amount of 
territory I have allowed you,  there is a time and a space which you create 
in the variations of your syntax and in the referents of your words themselves, 
how they relate to eachother in their own moment;  you create your 
rhythm (the trance dance) which spins out a psychological space, we are 
actually experiencing something together, getting into synch as it were, two 
becoming one in a confusing momentary exchanging of places, and then 
back again into the me of me and the you of you, it is that event that takes 
place in the reading of the word, the word made flesh.  But if that context 
doesn't exist, if it is words set against nothingness, how then can there be 
anything but lists and diagrams?  If there's nobody home out there, there's no 
reason to leave this solipsistic emptiness of  hollow echoing ringing in 
whatever the memory of man is, three generations they say, then it is all 

Memory is cued too in manipulations of time and space, in order for the 
message to get through, in order for you to leave your forbidden solitude for a 
moment, in order for there to Be an ancient residue for you to encounter, the 
laying down of arms must occur; confronted as we are by head trips and mysto 
macho, what are we to do?  It is time for poetry to get off its ass and get real, 
as they say, become a force in the dialog which is now becoming rather 
desparate about the future of man, since all the evidence for extinction is there. 
As "antennae of the race" (Man, you can Feel it) all you have to do is go 
psycho, or as they used to say "sensitive", and you can hear the howls of the 
future.  There is such a vacuum in the here and now--all ideologies have fallen 
away.  It is dark and quiet in the moments preceding the next millennium, a 
moment which usually sparks the deepest kinds of thinking about man and his 
planet; surely, it is the moment of The Poem, a moment when the poet is called 
upon to step forward and give us the benefit of his ability to see into the 

The encodings are carried unconsciously and spontaneously, you reveal 
yourself in accident when you let the shield of your own style droop for a 
second and, uh, make a mistake.  I think that's why Tzara & Co. went on the 
24 hour automatic writing marathons, to see if in moments of exhaustion 
something real from "the other side" would peak through, or whether some 
ancient residue would growl up from within you in mescaline trance there 
beside the fire in the middle of the night.  Poetry deprived of its context must 
ask for  beg for explanations and so the poem comes with an introductory text, 
is the poem a text or is the text a poem, and where do they meet.

On the more insidious side, we are kept in check by a host of mutually 
acceptable (the social contract) devices, of which language is the most resonant 
and universal aspect.  Who controls language controls control.  And if the 
universally accepted style of communication is subject->object, then the way of 
the renegade is to create a language of secrecy or an encoded, secret language 
which seeks to supplant, even if by subterfuge (ie., lying), the existing, outer-
directed authoritarian language response with an object->subject language of 
association, a parallel language as it were which lives within  accepted 
symbology long enough to replace it, as "good money drives out bad", so, too, 
a more efficient style of communication replaces or at least discredits the 
existing, totalitarian symbology.  We create this schizophrenic set of 
awarenesses almost militantly, daring the reader to let go and come along.  This 
freeing of the individual into himself for the creation of his own, inner-directed 
being is generally unacceptable to the controlling mechanism, and so poetry is 
constantly being stomped out or made acceptable in non-threatening media like
rock and roll or advertising, entertainment, basically, or what is regarded as 

Of course, this is my movie, I am only activating these pronouns within myself 
and you are the witness.  If you approve of my automanipulations as far as how 
much you have to risk and where we get in terms of the "passing beyond",  part 
of the contract which is made  in course of reading the poem.  


Criticism should be at least as well written as poetry.


sometimes unwilling filth, filled by despair, no wrong in seeking
butt held and firm, the flash forward indicates compression
you'd been heard again, but not the rest resting then Seems
to call ahead, no matter in the fever sings her praises
down among the land forgotten, another time seems best begotttn

you'd at the harder signs, no masking of anything left outside
but the schemer in the mists, a liar to boot, and not much
else left aside for tallying hooks or beginning to seem
the program from Dryden for god's sake to include text & crit.

what seems to be the end of time, when you have plenty of it,
marks no more the dialog between pressures where you must submit
or mark your collar with indistinction in the phalluses of others
lining goat gout the meeker sustaining arches interpedulated

six no cow the meter's running, and here plenty to nucleate deals
in the scope what's sent her (center) marks encodes belittle
the rescuer nixed plattitudes nor holds hope out beyond here
to flux review the poorer lines becalm no doubt but your own

these at the arrow doom, nor calm portend, at textual grip
the later dues not said nor even hinted at bills protrude
and scores not paid for their sentences; piece work sucks.

I'm not rised surprised, but heated coded encoiled within
your own particular syntax a reminder of the bills unpaid
or your history a parallax insider with no more credit
than who'd benign or flex them sinister attributes quicker

no sound unowned, but copyright a plenty dude, his honor
sucked upwards in the spin of golden haloes unremuted 
by their own dictive absolute the emptier hours remind
what works evener hucks upon the table babbled out life

her down. at leaps the froward collapse encentered global
heals you signing out no more doubt the light within
blinded heats the darker side exposed exploded narcs
no-car teat, but then a future favored forward replumes

astride the mooner tangle, this empty sack my own luck
enflamed boot, a diner tangle belies this web my own
particular disturbance moot to outer scans bethreaded
heads into the particular disarray without a paddle.


nor what floods out from inner sphere the dot the dot
where such tenor tenuous take on the with-held domain
innert pliance substant, nor make moon the skin's air
nor arc nor any other flame might deal this spinner
from late no pleasure in the seeming after lightning

then what follows is laid up, made aback nor flamered
butt held and firm, the saying goes, and goes far enough
to flame the dictum that what says goes aloft, or his
"donkeys crying mist" which deserves to be shredded out

is it flame enhanced or a doubter's musk, that you ask,
afar fixated but the nonce declaring here's the gumbo
doc, and fixer yourself you brought her, tha's enuf;
in the delay you've called ahead for salvation's mark

the bleeding shrine discovers you shivering toward 
the later bloom, her single tusk belated you downer
and into the appearance of meaning, good as the real.

narfed plutod: astir pressures keep you from the goal
and hears science itself beginning to beg for mercy
where you'd benign nor plenty, here's the mark for you
to flake, to score the muted signal, to flood the park

So you'd see the appearance of structure become the thing
itself a meter on the unknown at least in terms of time
or how long it takes to barter from this stat to the plain
and mark sensation into its proper sphere within acts;

mark ascension the swifter means what'd bin there
affirms astar in your own imagining made plain and
simple, how you are met here again along what's made.
this'd dick out, mark the door your own and hold

Doctored on the bin, tie not dictum into layering,
mark the sides your own and measure out directly,
skinning the outer marks without sensation or angle,
but leaving the center bare for others to fill in

heed these aching roofs their own location in the air
or headed into something reminiscent of other lives
they still have their density as something special
in the plenty to which you have given yourself again

and sharp these final signs their own destination in
the arc and center of the act, where they are made 
again into seeming and sustenance, another claim
against time bears out along the lighter path. 



Close reading/Jim Leftwich

"'Box o' Trash' comes undelivered presents in your mind, sprayed
or tied anew, and by your own hand undelivered as you pass
out undisturbed sentences unwinding hours ahead behind again
your own center reclaimed anonymity their disregard abandoned in."
A more or less randomly selected example.  Filled with beautiful artifice.
 Line breaks (pass/out), syntactical ambiguity ("undelivered presents" -
"presents in your mind") which allows a single word to function as two parts
of speech, the symmetrical music of "undelivered", "undisturbed",
"unwinding", the appositional paradox of "hours ahead behind again", the end
rime of "again" and "in".  All of which brings the reader, the "you", to
"your own center" present "in your mind",  centered in the unspoken present
between ahead and behind.  It's true that the rhythm, the whole music, works
on the body, so "the poem is a corporeal experience in time and space", and
"the whole thing is felt", is a "transference of energy", but the work that
goes into making it is at least, at the very least, as calculated, as
intentional, as a theoretical polemic.  The two things are different, I won't
waste our time arguing against that point, but there is an energy released in
the juxtaposition of these differences that just might in some instances
enhance the reading experience.  Not that any poems needs interspersed
commentary, any more than the normal essay needs passages of verse, but that
the hybrid is a viable possibility, and the reading of the hybrid form might
be like the reading of a poem.  Like reading Jabes:

"(Double awakening, when a universe stretches,
still heavy with sleep:  O dialogue!  We are rejoined.)
A book opens to secrets, but is secretly locked.
Reading, however, only confirms its openness, he also said.
And added: ... which is perhaps the secret"

At what point does this become poetry?


	...What's really going on these days, far as I can see,
is that a surprisingly large "group" of renegades is beginning to surface,
has been around for some time, actually, but is just beginning to really make
itself known.  And it consists of folks like you, Jake, John Bennett, Susan,
Sheila, Basinski, a few others, poets who  are working entirely outside of
the current.  I'm convinced that this is where the real work gets done,
always has been ---- Blake, Smart, Rimbaud, that kind of lineage, which is
the antithesis of a tradition.  And not that you should self-consciously
borrow from any of these guys, or even worry about the lineage.  I think that
from this sort of perspective, you are right that there is no cultural
history, there are no influences, there is just the work that needs to be
done, a poetry that is based in necessity and discovery....(JL)


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