Greetings to you over there, in the 5th or 7th arrondissement.
You’d asked me some months back if I might wish to respond. I wrote you back, you’ll recall, and said I thought it best to let your review stand alone. But yesterday, the folks from MAYDAY wrote me and asked, as well, that I say something in answer, so I’ve decided to write just a short reply.
I’m deeply appreciative of your perceptiveness and candor. Though there are things here and there I suppose I could go at in riposte, the truth is that, all in all, I think you’re pretty much on the mark. I mean, yes, again, I want to argue and qualify in some places, fill in some blanks, and so on. But doing so would come off as overly defensive, I think, make it seem I wished to distract from what you do so well, which is to point out some of the too-many failings and contradictions inherent in what I do. You’ve just started, really.
Let me just say one thing, in the interests of providing some self-conscious context. In my writing, I’ve never really tried to hide these troublesome issues about myself. They get presented there, and with a good deal of frequency, front, center, and sidelong. To a big extent, the complicities, insolvencies, hypocrisies (you’re too easy on me in regards the last) and such that inform my work and daily person are at the heart of my poetic impulse, such as it is. If these are clear in the poetry and their qualities perceived (and perceived with such style, as in your case), well, then I have found an ideal reader.
I desire, and in the subjunctive you yourself would eschew, that this impulse of mine were not so odd a thing it has nigh attained an embarrassing, even humiliating, eccentricity. Your gentle bemusements and betimes severities aside, I am glad that you do sense this, and I prize the ways such subtle compassion inclines towards me within the larger and intricate temperaments of your honesty. Thank you.
(Sorry, that’s me imagining myself as an aging, lonely character in the book Dangerous Liaisons.)
And yes, I’d love to have an absinthe and a fair number of beers with you sometime in the café Danton. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. Do they still allow smoking at sidewalk tables there? One of my favorite movies of all time, in fact, is Andrzej Wadja’s Danton. It’s like an allegory of the post-avant poetry world, you know—a world, alas, that’s been taken over by young Jacobins whose visions and certainties are both beautiful and horrifying. Their minds are ablaze, and blood courses, gloriously, in the gutters. The subtext of that film is all about the dynamics of the field, of course, how the honeycomb of positions and power lives on, reproducing its fractal, insistent orders, no matter how many heads are cut off. What a great movie. It should be required viewing for all students in MFA programs: hives now, these, of the cutting-edge dispensation.
Yes, I’d love to go to Paris, but now I know I will die before I can, and that really pisses me off, if you’ll pardon the locution.
My thanks, again, Nicholas,