“Because comparatively few poets today write in meters, rhymes, and stanzas, my use of these has resulted in my being labeled a "formalist." But I find this term meaningless and even objectionable. It suggests, among other things, an interest in style rather than substance, whereas I believe that the two are mutually vital in any successful poem. I employ the traditional instruments of verse simply because I love the symmetries and surprises that they produce and because meter especially allows me to render feelings and ideas more flexibly and precisely than I otherwise could. This preference is personal and aesthetic, however; I have never imagined that it provided me with access to cultural or spiritual virtue.”
My last five books of poetry, including the Metropolis series, have been constructed mostly with pirated text—web language, classical literature, mass culture language, etc. And over the past few years, I’ve been writing about why. At first, I was interested in the possibilities of de-stabilizing language beyond the strategies I already knew, such as disjunction and minimalism. By simply taking a chunk of language and reframing it in another context, I found that something new and relevant was happening not only to my writing but also to my experience as a reader. These new experiences were being validated also in the art that I saw and the music that I heard. In fact, by using pirated texts and reading the critical work that contextualizes these strategies, I have been able to explore my own possibilities for writing in a larger cultural frame that is fluent in notions about sampling and cataloging.
For me, using appropriation--either wholesale or in smaller collage units (no hierarchy here)--intersects several current conversations about consumerism, art and technology, readership, etc. By culling and then composing with the language around me, I aim to highlight the disparity between the object and the object consumed. This is my participation—not to replicate or exploit the original, but highlight its difference as we try to carve our paths through the informational morass. Benjamin Buchloh draws the parallel between language/found language and object/commodified object: “The allegorical mind sides with the object and protests against its devaluation to the status of a commodity by devaluating it for the second time in allegorical practice.” I could tell you how much you’ll pay for a pear here, or I can refer you to the information below:
Variety Hardiness Ripens Description
Cabot E September Medium size fruit. Extremely winter hardy. Flesh is melting, sweet, aromatic and good for fresh eating.
Clark+ E Early Sept. Fruit is small, good for canning, fair quality eating when ripe. Ripens all at once; not a keeper. Tree vigorous, fireblight and scab resistant.
David E September Thin-skinned, with flesh that holds its firmness and is good for cooking and processing. Fireblight resistant.
Golden Spice E September Good pollinator. Vigorous grower. Sweet and aromatic. Good for eating fresh when ripe and for home processing. Not a keeper.
Herman Last+ V Mid Sept. Medium to large-size fruit ripens on the tree. Good for eating and cooking. Resistant to fireblight.
Hudar+ E-V Late July, Early Aug. Yellow pear with sweet, juicy flesh. Good eating. Good size, about equal to Bartlett.
John E September A Pyrus ussuriensis/P.communis ussuriensis cross, John is very hardy and fireblight resistant, but only fair quality eating. Quality better if grown in the far north and eaten when perfectly ripe.
Jubilee E September Small to medium size fruit. Very hardy and fireblight resistant. A Pyrus ussuriensis/P.communis ussuriensis cross. Good for canning, and fresh eating when ripe. Does not keep.
Leonard V Late Sept. A medium-size, hard, green pear which ripens yellow to a smooth, melting, flavorful fruit. Brought to our attention by Clarke Nattress.
Luscious V Mid to late Sept. Large, very juicy, sweet and firm yet melting pear. Ripens in storage 7-10 days after harvest and remains excellent for fresh eating for about 2 weeks. A South Dakota E31 X Ewart cross, Luscious has proven hardy in many northern states.
Nova+ V Mid Sept. Our best pear, named after our daughter, Nova. Large, round, melting and juicy. Can be used green or ripe. Hangs well without premature drop. Precocious and self-fertile.
O'burg+ V September This medium to large pear ripens to a smooth, very fine quality fruit. Excellent canned. The original tree grew just south of Ogdensburg, NY for 50 years.
Olia E Early Oct. A Pyrus ussuriensis/P. communis cross. Small, flavorful fruit. Tree vigorous and productive. Fireblight resistant. Not a keeper.
Parker V Mid Sept. Introduced by the Univ. of MN in 1934. Medium to large fruit, yellow with red blush, fine-grained, tender, juicy.
Patten E Late Sept. Very large fruit. Should be picked about 1 week before ripe and then allowed to ripen. Good for eating, fair for canning.
Pepi E September Fruit small, good for canning. Like other P.ussuriensis crosses, it is very cold hardy and immune to fireblight, but lacks the eating quality of European pears.
Sauvignac+ V Sept. Very sweet juicy pear with few grit cells. Originated near Quebec City, Canada, in a very cold area. Brought to our attention by Henri Bernard.
Southworth+ V Mid-late Sept. Good-flavored, Bartlett-sized sweet pear with juicy flesh that is firm becoming melting. Self-fertile. Tree is a strong, vigorous grower. Originated in Northern NY.
Stacey+ E-V Mid-August Fruit is small but sweet. Should be picked in mid-August before fully ripe then allowed to ripen in a cool storage space. The original tree is at least 250 years old and is growing near Stacyville, ME. Very vigorous grower. Brought to our attention by Clarke Nattress.
Summercrisp V Mid Aug. Our second earliest pear. Introduced by the Univ. of Minnesota, this pear is best utilized as a crisp juicy fruit similar to the well known Asian pears. It is hardy in Grand Rapids, MN, withstanding nearly minus 50 degrees F. Tree vigorous and a good pollinator for other pears.
Tyson* M Early Sept. Known since 1794, Tyson is a medium-sized conical pear. Fruit quality very high, especially for fresh eating. Keeps only a short time in storage. Tree is large, vigorous and productive.
It starts with a blank dance card.
The answer, in part, is that a term (any term, really) labels a great variety of phenomena, asks questions about the validity of asking and what sense it makes beside sensory experience.
Instead dancing continues until sundown until someone starts playing the piano in the building next door.
This creates intersection.
“It’s what classical music could have been if it didn’t suck ass.”
A label or a statement is trying to say something, but it would be helpful also to not say it. Just pick up and dance (any dance, really). Walk up a ladder and look. A statement is a conditioning of representations by context, by where sounds come from, or by gauging the height of the tree while standing under it.
You try it.
Experience attunes to certain information or regularities or artifacts which can be exploited in the present, or to certain rarities which are good for gauging the height of the tree while standing under it. A dance card is good for this, for taking lists shorter than trees, for taking lists of things that are inside something else, for thinking about creating movement and actually going with it.
Physically, the new poem starts from First and Mission Streets in San Francisco, of walking out of the transient space of the transbay bus terminal into the plaza with a huge pine tree full of birds on the far left, then a green shack of a flower stand, then newsstands, and above, a web of electric MUNI bus lines. There are generally several taxis on the right, but I ignore them.
This creates intersection.
And the title, Yes.
There’s an intersection in climbing a ladder and coming back down again, a slight burp. You may learn how high something is. You may have a different view for a while. But you’re put back where you started. You’re put back where you started, but there are differences.
There are different lines overheard on the bus. “So that’s how you learned about (pause) life?”
There are different senses of things.
In Yes, I’ve thrown a bunch of stuff at it to see what sticks—advice well given & well taken. As a result, there are several unappropriated quotes, dialogues, speakers, repetitions, and lists, each creating types of juxtaposition that beg for interaction, that ask about the validity of placement, both in the poem and in general, that confront the intersections and question the connections, both between the things themselves and between the lines as they’re written.
Questions create vulnerability and mean that there’s a lot hanging out there. I don’t mean that I’m sitting there dancing and playing and looking like an ass, but that you’re there too, or someone is there. We’re there with our blank dance cards and we are dancing. We are dancing together. We are embracing it, dealing with it.
There are different senses of things.
We examine intersections as they come up and maybe we don’t care how tall the tree is and we keep on dancing. And maybe, somewhere in the process, we’ll even piece together something that’s worth a damn.