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Sunday, September 5, 2021


 I just read an interview with Bronk. He didn't revise much; Ashbery was the same way. I won't revise a poem much, either. A friend of mine said, yes, well, but you write the casual Frank O'Hara style poem, so that's why. I guess he is right, though it sounds a bit dismissive too. It implies a lack of effort, but effort does not really mean anything. Is a poem that is harder to write better, or worse? No, there is not correlation at all, though the illusion of effortlessness certainly is more attractive to me.  

It's not really arrogance. I am arrogant about some things, maybe, but I don't think my reluctance to revise comes from there. My poem could very well be of inconsequential value, or fall flat in any number of ways. It's more that a poem that I think is not very interesting in the first place is not worth revising either. I've never taken a bad poem and improved it into a good one. Wouldn't that time be better spent writing something else more interesting in the first place?    

A line or concept pops into my head. The words with which the idea presents itself are pretty much the words I want to use. I can add more to the initial idea, or group similar short poems together, or tweak a line or two. Re-writing long sections, though, is foreign to my concept of writing poetry.  

It is the opposite with non-fiction prose, which I will be constantly reworking.  Here is a poem inspired by Wittgenstein on the impossibility of giving money to oneself (Why can't my right hand give my left hand money? -- My right hand can put it into my left hand. My right hand can write a deed of gift and my left hand a receipt. -- But the further practical consequences would not be those of a gift.)

I hire myself as a housekeeper

I arrive when I know I will not be there

and let myself in with a key that I have given myself

I am dressed in women's clothing

I know how I would like it to be cleaned, though I am not a good cleaner

I clean for myself, and for the salary I am paying myself

When I come back later I see that I have cleaned the house

I transfer money from one account to another and return the key to myself


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