Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nice, Very Mature

The winter issue of The Cincinnati Review is up, and you can read my poem "The Shroud and the Anti-Knot" on their website! I wrote it a few years ago and had almost forgotten how it went, but rereading it now, it seems to be about, like, surgery maybe? Also death? Who knows. I had been locked up in my house for months at that point, cultivating a long white beard of insanity. Which reminds me, a while back, the editors actually asked me for a short statement to accompany my poems. Sure! I said. Here's an unsettling cow metaphor that I think will be really perfect. It went:

I spend my days in a tiny room, sitting perfectly still as a heifer in a field, occasionally lifting my front right hoof to write notes on small slips of paper. When I have a lot of these notes, I chew them until a literary "cud" forms, and then we kiss, and I pass the cud into your mouth.

I liked it because you often read contributors' comments that are boring, but how often do you read one that is disgusting? I personally would find it refreshing. Anyway, they patiently responded, "We actually meant, you know, a sober examination of your process?" They were so kind about it, and I had been such a bad animal, that a tear slipped down my bulging cheek. I sat down to write something serious, and my milk sang sadly into the pail of Explanation.

9 comments:

RHE said...

Never explain. They don't deserve it. Asked once for a note explaining my "process" of composition, I wrote that I waited in the backyard to be visited by angels bearing fountain pens and often thought I had been, but the results suggested that they really were tufted titmice. When the magazine appeared, the contributor's note below my poem read, "Richard Epstein lives in Denver, Colorado."

cuchullainn said...

You know, I have a calendar wherein is featured a loverly pastoral scene, from backwoods Germany I believe, with a loverly little buckskin heifer standing lonesomely in the foreground of her pasture -- contemplating a poem, I believe, as her spine is all arched and bowed over in that familiar way. Contemplating a poem, or pinching forth a cow patty. One or the other.

Which is to say, I think your cud-swapping metaphor rather too genteel. But we thinks gold of you anyway.

Tricia said...

We are twins in lameness, Richard! And I am worse because I actually like to read author's statements and such things, it feels very homey and comforting to me.

Cuchulainn--why are you barfing on history by spelling your name with two Ls? And why brag about your fancy calendar with German cows on it? Are you trying to make me jealous?

cuchullllainnn said...

It's so I'm not mistaken for the actual cuchulainn. DUH.

Tricia said...

Hee, look at all those Ls!

ButtonHole said...

I found this post and its accompanying comments to be solidly hilarious!

dogimo said...

Hm. It's a hell of a question. A sober examination of the process?

Especially...what if your process doesn't entail sobriety?

Personally I just build up observations and experiences in memory, then I select one angle or kernel to start with and build a composition, usually a composite of at least some raw memory materials, but these are almost always disarranged, collaged, and shaped by deliberate extrapolations, conjectures, and perhaps some imposed, desired scheme or effect to be achieved. The biggest single formative influence is whether I've got plenty of beer to go on, or whether I'm out and have had to resort to whisky.

SarahJane said...

most of the process examiniations are pretty disgusting, if they're really close that is.

Tricia said...

dogimo, I prefer stimulants myself. Why, I have drunk as much as a cup of Earl Grey and smoked as much as half of a cigarette all at one time while writing, because I live a life of excess.

SarahJane! When is the last time you went to the Doctor, and had a camera inserted into your thinking-hole?