Thursday, 27 February 2014

Asides to Walt Whitman

I learned recently that a new poem of mine was to be published by Red River Review.

Its title, "Asides to Walt Whitman, where Brooklyn Ferry Intersects the Seventh Circle of Dante's Hell," is nearly as long as the poem itself. I haven't written anything new for sometime, but recently I've drifted back into writing, with an idea for a sequence of poems that have as their basis a form of political/ecological/cultural outrage, free-wheeling writing with little self-absorbtion - archetypically, the cold, ironic eye applied to the form.

Although linked to a new poem, "Asides"as a title is forty years old. In 1974, I was living in West Palm Beach, Florida. I rented a two-bedroom apartment that, in the 1920s, served as the 'summer house' behind the main house, where wealthy residents retreated when they wanted to get away from the stifling heat of the larger residence during the hot summer days and nights.

I had the place to myself, and in part-payment of rent, I used to do chores for the lady who owned the property. This was in the time of the Arab oil embargo, and union construction work all but dried up at the time, and with it my livlihood.

With the time on my hands, I planned a series of long poems, with the energy and ambition typical of youth. For a number of years thereafter, I did in fact use section titles of the opus magnus, either as they were intended, as parts of longer poems, or in some cases as individual poem titles, but the main series of sets and sub-sets of philosophical musings never materialised as I had hoped.

Thinking back, and considering the hundreds of pages of poetry I've written and published, I've concluded that the 'golden thread' of poetic sensibility that ran through that original outline of work, had indeed found its way to the page, though perhaps in guises somewhat different to those originally intended.


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