More on process and poems

Again relating to Quickmuse. Man, this is the sort of neoformalist stick-up-the-butt work that makes me crazy, even when I also kind of like it. It makes me crazy how same-same it all is. They all sound like each other, and like they’re tallking only to each other in the same melancholy formal register. How can people write like that all the time and not be aware of the profound unoriginality of voice? And consider that the only path to “quality”? Where is the newness? What’s getting broken and remade? (Nothing big, that’s for sure.) It’s like watching someone in a box extend a tiny feeler outside the box and wave it around in an elaborate encoded handsignal. Even if I understand the meannig of the handsignal and its beauty and the history of the tentacle-waving from inside a box art form, I’m so dissatisfied! Yes, there is a place for the muted expression of things… I can’t put my finger on what makes me so FRUSTRATED when I read poems like this. It’s like being a volcano and having someone try to make you sit down and listen to a reasoned argument about how you need to brush your teeth. They are right, and it’s fine for them to expect you to listen quietly, but when their speech is over, you’re still a fucking volcano. I want big poems, and I want to be surprised, and mind-fucked, and taken on a trip, and pleased by something that goes somewhere I don’t expect. I want MORE.

Ideally, I suppose, watching someone else’s process makes one frustrated, and just frustrated enough to run off and write a BETTER poem. Just like retranslation, where you love a work, and respect a translation of it or have special nostalgia for it, but it does not match your own vision and so becomes a constant pebble in your shoe until you do it your own way. Inspiration by way of annoyance. God, people! Get out of the box! Would rather see something, anything that isn’t like everything else, and definitely that isn’t “workshopped” or “polished”.

Maybe the toothbrushing is not quite the right example. They’re like small, perfect, formal gardens. I like them, but I want fucking terraforming — that’s big and vulnerable.

Quickmuse and process

This looks nifty: QuickMuse, a poetry jam site that exposes writing process. You can see the finished poem and then do a playback of the writer compsing the poem, writing and deleting and shuffling things around. The interface, well, I could wish for it to be more like a video where you can slide a bar and speed it up or pause. But I love the idea. Poems on assignment or on a subject have always made me yawn – even assignments I try to give myself. But how interesting it would be to capture the natural process of writing… not always, but occasionally. I have a moment between when i’m rambling and casting about, and then suddenly get in the groove, get my vision, and know what I’m doing. I can stay in that state of mind for hours, then drop out, exhausted emotionally. My paper notebooks have those few first lines and “casting” maybe pages of rambling or clumsy lines that I know aren’t “it”. It seems to me that part of inspiration is knowing what is not it, but knowing you have to go through creating Not-It anyway.