Friday, August 29, 2003

questions for Chris McCreary, but really questions for everyone 

Chris, i had wanted to respond to your earlier post a couple of days ago, but was distracted with tracking down my Bukowski dream.

first, i like that you had read certain things, like IN THE AMERICAN TREE before you got into Bukowski. i say that because it was the other way around for me, and i guess it's just one of those things where you know how you've approached poems, and then you hear a different route, or in this case, the opposite route in some sense, and want to know more about that because discovery, or, the passage to discovery, is a real human fascination.

one question i have, that may sound kind of silly (but i don't care), is if you can pinpoint a particular poem or life change, or something, that got you out of Bukowski-like writing/reading, and moving you on. i ask it this way because it's clear from your post of the 26th that there was some point where you tired of the "sloppiness" of Bukowski you were suddenly recognizing. curious about such pivotal points for poets.

also wanted to ask you to elaborate more on your ideas of fiction. i'm someone who hasn't liked fiction. but now find myself enjoying fiction written by poet friends. alright, i'll go ahead and say that, if it weren't for poet friends writing fiction, i might still be stuck in my same superstition about poets writing fiction. how do you feel about fiction and poetry in the life of a writer in the sense that one genre might dominate the other inside you?

it's such bullshit i'm starting to realize, since i see poets like Eileen Myles writing heart-stopping prose. Magdalena Zurawski, and hasssen, poets i respect, writing this, this, prose, that i, that i, okay, that i like. i've needed my ass kicked over this for awhile. but it still doesn't mean i want to write a novel anytime soon, or ever.

but at the same time i want to know how you feel/think about these issues, to which you may simply answer that they're my personal issues.

for this question i've been trying to remember WHEN i first developed my superstitious theories. but when isn't really important. at some point i had convinced myself that poets access one part of the brain while fiction writers took to another. and that poets who began writing fiction might not be able to find their way home to poetry (notice the phrasing, poetry being Home). this especially took root in me after reading some scientific data which claimed how the memory worked, and how explaining a memory to someone created a new memory in the explaining, and how each time you told the memory you were not referring to the original memory, but to the newest most recent memory of having told the memory. thus the explanation for how people whitewash memories. this of course has nothing to do with poets writing fiction, but i somehow made it so, like some very good, but deranged lawyer, convincing the jury in my head that this newest study on memory proves my point that poets should STAY AWAY from fiction.

i remember telling Eileen Myles this, who of course laughed, and said, "well, the way i really see it is that i'm maturing. i'll still always write poems, but now i can finally write novels because i have more patience for novels." and i'll be honest in saying how judgmental i was of that at first, walking away thinking that maybe she was rationalizing this to me. but then i couldn't deny that i fell in love with COOL FOR YOU, her first, and amazing novel.

okay, so the questions have become lost in all this. i guess reactions to all this are what i want. poets talking about things that make other poets uncomfortable might be the best possible thing.


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