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   t h e    s e r i a l    a s    p o r t a l:    a n    i n t e r v i e w    w i t h    r a c h e l    b l a u    d u p l e s s i s

--- C H R I S   M C C R E A R Y

This interview was conducted over e-mail in February, 2003. In 2001, Wesleyan University Press published Drafts 1-38, Toll, collecting the first two major units within Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ ongoing long poem, "Drafts." In "Draft 54: Tilde," featured in this issue of Xconnect, she continues to lay bare the fragments and displacements found within memory, history, and language itself.

Chris McCreary: Reviewing Drafts 1-38, Toll for the new Poetry Project newsletter, Lee Gough cites your use of George Oppen’s suppressed government files in an earlier Draft as an example of your commitment to entering “into the ‘gaps’ and erasures of public information.” What public sources are you currently exploring? And has this process changed at all in the age of the Patriot Act? It seems like while certain information is being kept under close wraps these days, other types of information are being pushed forward. For me, it creates this strange nowhere land where we’re told “something bad is going to happen, but we can’t give you more details—and that lack of info is for your own good.” On the one hand, it’s disturbing in what it puts forth; on the other hand, it’s unnerving in its lack of detail.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis: OF COURSE I am terrified of the Patriot Acts I and the projected II, because it evidently and swiftly erodes civil liberties and due process and Bill of Rights protections. Very bad things have already happened—incarcerations, citizens removed from airplanes (they have so-called “no fly names”—Arab names); citizens arrested for innocently taking photographs, or taking them for professional assignment. (These are two things I have heard about, attested.) Not to speak of the months’ long incarceration of non-citizens caught up in a callow dragnet that is frozen in place like an armor. It is a “Reichstag Fire” situation. And of course the current post-9/11 state of mind is like an on-going chronic, saturating crisis of consciousness, for there is a serious loss of ability to grapple in a real way with issues of cause and effect, possibly because of collective mourning and rage, while, at the same time while we undergo this social-individual process, of reconciliation to a terrible, shocking loss, we are being jerked around incredibly by fundamentalists abroad—Islamicists and those who would perpetrate more terrorist acts—and in our own country, by hard-right proto-fascist Christians, who would use our country’s name and power to continue a useless and in many ways criminal foreign policy. Not to speak of fundamentalist uses of other religious formations (Judaism, Hinduism) that have political power. For many many years, the US has been on the wrong international and national course. But that seems obvious. How it affects my poetry is not something I can pre-state; it is also presumptuous for me to discuss poetry I have not yet written and have just begun to write.

CM: I think it would be helpful if you could you take a minute to describe the Drafts project, and then we’ll go from there.

RBD: Drafts, in their projected total of 114 separate, but related works, are intended to contribute to the American long poem tradition. These poems, all with the main title of “draft,” but numbered and titled individually, make up a work of interdependent, but autonomous canto-length long poems. To name the whole work and its individual cantos Drafts is to make a statement about genre: I start from the metaphoric presumption of provisionality—these poems are (pretended) as “unfinished.” By using this title, I signal that these poems are open to transformation, part of an ongoing process of construction, self-commentary, and reconstruction, similar to the genre called “midrash” in Hebrew textuality. That means that none of the poems is perfect, iconic, static—something that has gender meaning for me as a critique of the uses of the female/feminine in a good deal of poetic tradition. This title also signals that the poems respond thematically and structurally to the problem of memory by undertaking to replicate the open-ended displacements and waywardness of memory in poetic form, playing with the textures of memory, including its unexpectedness, its flashes, its fragmentations, and its erasures.

To accomplish this I use two main formal tactics: randomized repetition (recurrence of lines, phrases, situations, words) and the “folding” of one poem over another—in which any draft corresponds in some sensuous, intellectual, allusive, or even simple way to a specific “donor draft” on a periodicity of nineteen. The tactic of randomized repetition is a way of constructing the work like a gigantic memory of itself. The tactic of the fold creates a regular, though widely spaced, recurrence among the poems, and a chained or meshed linkage whose regularity is both predictable and suggestive. My inventing both a vertical and a horizontal way of thinking about the relations of these poems was very liberating—the work became malleable and porous, and yet framed. But it’s important to remember that the project began as a set of heuristic, but self-reading acts, casting myself into the possibility of this making.

In Drafts 1-38, Toll, I have published the first nineteen, and then the first “fold” of nineteen works—the opening two units of this long poem. The subtitle, Toll, is meant seriously to evoke the various “tolls” of the twentieth century.

I imagine that reading my work in poetry is like hearing a complicated modern string quartet or piece of chamber music with several movements, many textures, resonance, tonal glissades, and emotional intensities of all sorts. Another way of reading my work sees in it the visual art tactic of collage, taking disparate materials and setting them by juxtaposition in relation to each other. Collage uses a lot of citation and materials from the “real world” imbedded, and it features oblique angles and edges, a sense of startle at the relations of the elements. These analogies might give a sense of what is at stake for me in these poems. My poetics is highly indebted to Objectivist practice in United States poetry: investigation of “the real world, the real, real world,” as Carl Rakosi once remarked. I was most formed in poetry by the work and the example of George Oppen: his uncompromising commitment to exactness, sincerity and social and existential focus, along with a brilliant and challenging use of segmentivity and seriality. Further, I am indebted to the long poem tradition of mainly American modernism—indebted that is to Williams, Pound, H.D., especially, but also to Eliot, Moore, Niedecker, Zukofsky and Loy.

CM: How far along are you on the next series of Drafts, then? Do you find yourself writing smaller, completely stand-alone poems at this point, or is just about everything part of the larger Drafts project?

RBD: I am writing this response in February 2003. First, while I might write a little something because I am asked to—I just wrote a short poem about a flower for Enid Mark who is producing one of her wonderful books—I generally do not write any poetry that is not part of Drafts. At this point I have completed 19 new poems beyond Toll, that is, all of Drafts 39-57 and also “Draft 62: Gap.” As well I am finishing an unnumbered Draft, hors de serie, called “Precis” that will go after “Draft 57” but before “Draft 58.” Hence I consider that I have begun the 4th row of Drafts (that is from 58 on to 76). That’s a lot of numbers to throw around and a few words might be in order.

I began by writing from poem to poem, casting myself into each, and linking the poems, as I just said, by a tactic of repetition, but one that was conceived unsystematically, as something that happened from within the necessity of the lines and materials I was pursuing. Then at around “Draft 19” something rather bizarre and striking happened. I felt the need for more than the random, reminiscent repetition of elements, picking up lines and images from prior drafts to make this texture of déjà vu. How this managed to happen at the number “19” is one of those pieces of luck that occurs when you give yourself heuristically to a project, letting it unfold and examining what arrives when it articulates itself/ when I articulate it. The luck is that 19 is a fascinating number. It is a prime number. 60/19 = approximately pi. If you use it as I have, as the number signaling the moment to construct a fold, the moment to “begin the poem again,” you get this lovely pattern of evens and odds across any “line” of the work. By line, I mean what I have taken to calling the “line of 1” or the “line of ‘N’”: all the poems that occur every 19, such as “Draft 1: It,” “Draft 20: Incipit,” “Draft 39: Split” and Draft 58 (apparently called “In Situ,” as I write, but one never knows)—you can see the warp/woof, even/odd in the sequence 1, 20, 39, 58.

How do these lines get constructed in their particular spot or site? Think of the whole work with all its poems as a grid. There is a place for any poem before it is written. This is a wonderful fact. What relationships are created in these “lines”?—well, any that can be imagined, from the repetition of the simple color red, as in “Draft 2” and the “line of 2,” to complex reconsiderations of materials and ideas. There are funny rules, amusing pulsations, mini-runs (like the use of Roman numerals on a diagonal pattern from the Poundean XXX), necessities, intentions that reveal themselves seriously and teasingly, and must be honored. The “line of 1” seems to honor the word “it,” which is buried or encoded in all of the titles to date along that line.

This all may seem superficial, but surface is depth, and all formal choices become part of the argument of the poem. So the grid is a site where each of the elements are evenly distributed (there will be a particular poem in this site or slot), patterned (both randomly, and intentionally), yet none of the elements in any poem is at all predictable. Anything can go into any of the poems at any moment, but it has also been constructed to accept or allow certain very basic rules. Something in any poem can be the same or parallel to what is in any other or any related poem, or totally different. I think of some lines from Trilogy by H.D. that say something of this paradox: “the same—different—the same attributes,/ different yet the same as before.” (105) While my explanation of all this may seem turgid to read, or a little over-involved in its use of suggestive numbers, the scheme provides totally open possibility while simultaneously making pattern. This is, to repeat a word from above, very liberating.

Let me give another example of choice mechanisms which involve the fulfillment of promises to oneself. I am explaining why “Draft 62: Gap,” again has that repeated title, and why it is relatively short (a scant 2 pp. rather than the more usual 4-5 pp. typescript, with some going as far as 13 pp. ts.). The repeated title, about loss, is on the “line of 5”—there is a “Gap,” “Draft 5: Gap,” that refers to the death of my father, and to the blacked out files of the poet of George Oppen. The next “Gap” is also about loss. Then another one, “Draft 43: Gap” is dedicated to the memory of Frances Jaffer. At that point, after having done 3 poems by this title, in this line, I was faced with the possibility, or dilemma whether to change titles, using another word, and creating a symmetrical relationship among the projected 6 units of 19, three with one title, three with another. I decided not to, but rather to continue to use the word “Gap” six times. Then there was another train of thought contributing to the shape of this particular poem. “Draft 31: Serving Writ” was commissioned as a short poem (it is like a double sonnet), although never published in the almanac of poet’s birthdays and poems for the year 2000 that Douglas Messerli had planned but never brought out. Having a rather short poem in the “place” of the long poems, a droll but intense fact, I accepted the throw of that particular chance or dice, and decided that on some useful periodicity, I would again, and then again produce a relatively shorter poem in the whole (projected) series. That periodicity is 31. 31+31=62. Thus “Draft 62” was to be called “Gap,” because it is on the “line of 5,”signalling loss, and it was to be relatively short (as presumably “Draft 93” will be). Those were its mini-rules. However, this potential set of design stipulations would need to be “activated.” This occurred when I heard a lecture about Holocaust monuments in this dreadful period we are living in, at this point verging on absolute war against Iraq, and as I write, one full day before the anti-war demonstrations of 15 February 2003, which (as I rewrite this) turned out to be a major world-wide, stunning event whose impact is not yet clear. That was a sentence of a looping temporality, wasn’t it. The notion of how one is implicated, the brilliant rightness of the Gerz’s “disappearing monument” in Hamburg, Germany that I heard about in this lecture and then sought information about in James Young’s book all crystallized for me into a poem.

My next observation also refers to your next question—I first committed to writing the poems in sequence, one at a time, one after the other. However, aside from all the little factors of revision and so on that might jostle this commitment (and that can be seen by checking the dates given at the end of each poem), when I wrote the poems about the engagements with people, certain other factors came in to compromise and alter the scheme of writing them in order, a scheme that allowed me to move from one work to the other in a somewhat systematic way. This writing out of order also occurred because of “commissions.” “Draft 48: Being Astonished” was written because I didn’t want to write yet another critical article on something in which I am nonetheless deeply implicated, the current richness, variety, and brilliant pertinence of women experimental poets along a number of generations, now. When Cynthia Hogue and Laura Hinton were formulating an anthology out of the Barnard conference where lyric met innovation (to quote the terms I was rather suspicious of), I simply wanted to write a jaunty, intelligent poem taking up the “being astonished” topos from Hejinian and considering how one “is” a woman writer from a number of different subject positions. So I did, but this poem then was written out of sequence, and so were virtually all the poems in this new (third) set of 19. There were other examples of contingencies that destabilized the vow (is it a good vow?) to write the poems in order. Indeed, I have written ”Draft 62” without writing the ones that precede it. I was simply responding to another set of vectors.

CM: Some basic questions about your composition techniques, then: How many Drafts do you tend to have in progress at any given time? How clearly can you envision each one’s final shape when you’re still collecting bits of material to use? You’re already mentioned the process of new Drafts “folding” in on previous ones, and that surely necessitates careful plotting of the new poem, for example. How early on do patterns such as the sound of the poem, say, become a factor?

RBD: All questions about composition are awkward. The process is incommunicable, or, rather, only its externals are communicable. But the metaphors and words used might offer some insight to others. So here goes. I like to think I have one Draft at a time under construction, but this is not necessarily true. But mostly I do. When I am teaching (i.e. at work for a paycheck), a poem might take about 4 months to complete. But when I was on leave in (academic year) 2001-02, I needed to start and finish 9 drafts from scratch and complete 3 others. This task was actually accomplished in 12 months, so you might say I had a rate of one per month when I was not teaching. This was one of the most astonishing experiences I have yet undergone in the years I have been writing the poems. I don’t necessarily expect it to happen at that rate again, but one never knows.

Here’s how the composition process works. I have little notebooks, sometimes useful, sometimes filled with useless phrases. These I consult, more to prove that I have written something down once upon a time than to explore any “gold mine” in them; I might throw a few phrases onto the computer. Sometimes I use odd errors from people—often students (the works of “Sapphocles” is a great one, or “the essay as from”—in some scholarly work on Adorno). Clearly I watch what language throws up for our attention, what little leakages and secrets it proposes. Second, I have citations—let’s say from programs of new music, Relache or Orchestra 2001, or from the newspaper, weird little bits that excite my attention. And of course, as you know, these citations mainly are acknowledged for any given poem (in the notes). This is the “I am a gleaner; I am a bricoleuse; I am a collagiste” part of my makeup.

I also have outtakes from prior poems—I am very thrifty and save these. They are on the computer and sections can be deployed into any current construction site; often I’ll move them around until they “stick.” Sometimes this material will be used as a kind of hook or magnet for other material, literally a forcefield where some other words can begin to take place, take shape, or congeal, attaching themselves to the already-existing material. Indeed, sometimes that very “original” saved, outtaken, and intaken material is then cut out and put back into the file of outtakes! There is actually a deeper reason for this fussing, to wit: There can always be writing when there is writing, but when there is a blank page, it is always possible that there might be no writing. My use of outtakes is how I solve the oft-spoken of problem of the blank “page” or “screen.” Although the page is never blank, that secret writing that comes before you, literally the whole cultural tradition, might be inhibiting. By this tactic of using bits of material to seed a composition site, I turn the “already written” page to advantage, so it does not drain the impulse to write. There is a dialogue between empty and full in writing tactic that corresponds to the empty/full in theme. In an essay on my work that Patrick Pritchett recently sent me (and that is due to appear in Facture), he notes “depletion turning to plenitude.”

But the main thing that starts me off is a title. This is wild—that one word, or two, might so declare and articulate a site—literally a sense of a geographical space or place, not already explored, but one open to consideration. Titles, of course, can change as I am writing, as the work as such takes shape, but the inspiration of titling cannot be overstated. I also understand that titling is a way of declaring entitlement.

I tend to get squirrelly when I am not writing, and when I have to defer too long, because of my job, which involves evaluating student work, or teaching, reading to teach, etc, I can feel the frustration building up. It’s like lactic acid if you haven’t been to the gym recently. When I get sufficiently squirrelly, I begin another poem.

How do I begin? I work with these bits of the already written directly on the computer, playing the keyboard of letters like a piano, improvising and simply writing into the space. This is the part that is hard to communicate. I write. I write the words and materials which, with work, become these poems. I am thinking words, sound, syntax, and argument into the page, as best I can. Then I arrange— resequencing as an activity until the poem comes right, is finished, is a vital activity incredibly important to my work. Often I will take hard copy, print out something, and physically cut and staple it to new pages to get a workable sequence. I do all this over and over. Sometimes I can get a sense of the shape of a poem without cut-and-“paste” in a physical sense, just as computer activity. I used to save every major change in a physical, printed file; now I don’t care so much about documenting every move I make. I do still have hard copy of a lot of changes, but never all.

At some time in the process, syntax becomes very crucial, because syntax is the construction of relationships. I work towards intricate reaches of syntax; I am certainly not trying to convey a natural event in natural, historical order, just as it really “happened,” but am making a work out of verbal materials as my medium, a work that might draw upon reality, but is not directly mimetic.

With increased responsibilities to the “folds,” I go through several moments of working materials in—probably three or four moments. Some are verbal, some are thematic, some are—I don’t know, name another category? in “argument.” I will sometimes take notes on prior poems, picking lines and concepts that interest me particularly at this moment, and these will offer possibilities to the next poems of that particular fold. Everything bears on everything else, so one must do a lot of interior listening and stabilizing to complete the poem. There is no faking here; work is an ethical act.

You asked about sound. Sound happens immediately, and forever. It is a function of pleasure in writing, and occurs on a number of scales. I am also quite aware of linebreak and the segmentivities I create, particularly in relation to syntax. These are a category of “sound.” Further, word order is a terrific tool, and I think about that a good deal since shifts of emphasis occur with the placement of a word along a line and in a particular syntactic spot in a sentence.

When I am finishing a poem, a process that might take a month or two, I carry a hard copy around with me and tinker with it at odd moments, pen to paper. When I was commuting to Temple from Swarthmore, I’d revise on the train—a fabulous, private/public workspace, just perfect for re-hearing a poem. Sometimes I would change—a comma. A word. There is nothing small in a poem—it is all vital. Everything seals everything else in. The whole poem is a “lock.” Now that I live in the city and my commute is shorter, I will find another space for the rereading and rehearing of works before completion. Maybe some café. Of course, I revise directly on the computer, too, sitting at my desk. But like Des Essaintes, in a famous “decadent” novel called A Rebours, I have rather liked working on modes of transport, in a strange public space in which one is alone.

CM: A few weeks back, I saw you read from your work at the Poets For Peace event here in Philly (on 24 November 2002). What role do you see poets having in today’s political climate? More specifically, what role can / should avant garde poets play, both in terms of their own writing and their lives beyond the work they produce?

RBD: Poets are citizens and they can engage in citizenly actions: protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, petitioning, demonstrating, organizing, supporting the struggles they believe in. They can make their opposition known (i.e. to the US far-right government and its current economic and political policies, including global interventions; i.e. to the breakdown of democracy in voting, in social justice issues). Poets can engage in complex and imaginative acts of protest, or even simple acts of protest. Poets can, by virtue of language skills and professional contacts, reach out to friends in other nations to form a useful network of communities. They can try to protect and support beleagured institutions here—libraries, universities, literacy programs, arts funding. In terms of writing, poets can record outrage, protest, make intellectual and imagistic connections among issues. They can invent forms and rhetorics that explore what they are thinking and feeling politically: rage, grief, irony (and other feelings and emotions). They need do this, in my opinion, with absolute refusal of the temptations of demagoguery or bullying. Rhetorics of arousal to action or to outrage need always leave a space of porousness for the thought of others. Bad faith acts, sentimentalizing or exoticizing, over-statement, unsupported claims, and poetic sermons are a moral problem for me. If one wants to build communities of thoughtful response and vision, one must act in the now to construct prototypes of such communities in one’s words and forms as well as in one’s acts.

CM: You’ve already mentioned the profound influence of Oppen and other Objectivist writers, as well as the Modernist tradition of the long poem. In what ways does the Objectivist model continue to inform your writing? And what other models do you find yourself pulling from these days?

RBD: I don’t think any “model” can be “pulled from.” This implies a kind of instrumentality whose logic is foreign to the work I do in poetry. So the final words of your question don’t resonate for me. But I think I understand the spirit of the question. There is a difference between a life-long investment in an exemplary poetry—Oppen’s for me—and varieties of cross-fertilization and impact that one struggles with and is struck by—here, in this category, there could be a wild and endless list of names, which would catalogue the interests I might have at any given moment, in poetry, theory, new music, modern and contemporary art. For example, I am very engaged with Bartok, with “minimalist” music and listen to new music a lot in concert and on CD. I get very struck by determined and forthright work in poetry, and feel challenged by it, even when the practitioners are at odds with each other, or hold opposite positions. One of the things that propelled me into writing more and larger than I had before was hearing a piece by the composer George Crumb (“Music for a Summer Evening—Makrokosmos III,” which premiered in 1974 at Swarthmore College). These washes of influence and challenge are endless, and could be expanded on—a sentence of Walter Benjamin can rivet me to the spot. A rock formation can be a distinct influence.

With Oppen, it was the exemplary nature of the poetic career—his high and witty and proudly humble ambition, the determination, the rejection of cleverness, the test of the highest standards, the willingness to wait, the tests of the words against the ultimates—that deeply affected me.

My friendship with George began over Williams. It was marked by my work on Paterson, which was rather original at the time (1965), but compromised by my generative, but long-to-mature difficulty entering into the normal exchanges and academic rituals of my erstwhile career. I was stunned by Oppen’s poetry—it was so far and beyond anything I knew, and its intransigence and care deeply affected me. At this point in his career, he sent a draft of an important poem to a small group of friends. It was thus that I wrote early maundering, appreciative, querying remarks on Of Being Numerous, trying in any way to grasp, and to keep up with, and to assimilate the tremendous challenge of that poem. I was able, finally, to say something that stuck with him (“‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance/ from Them, the people, does not also increase’”), now opening section 9. The fact that he cites these words in the poem, has marked a depth of a bond between us, and between his work and mine. I think his “answer” in that section to my noble question (“I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place…”) was the first time I had understood that you could talk the most vital arguments directly into the page. Or maybe the second time—I’d heard it in Duncan too, in “Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar…” but with George, he was including me and my words in this conversation. That was a formative and generous gift.

The Objectivist example led to precision, clarity, intensity, strong focus on the line and serial forms, and a commitment to the poem as a way to think and undertake understanding. It allowed you to think into the page as writing. Objectivist practice often implies a concern with ethics and with social insight that is also part of my engagement with poetry.

CM: It strikes me that there are many significant career-spanning volumes currently being published. In addition to new editions of collected poems from Oppen and Niedecker, we’re seeing major collections from poets who are still very much in the mix: examples that immediately come to mind are collected poems from Tom Raworth, a sizable selected poems from Rae Armantrout, and your own Drafts 1-38, Toll, which brings together Drafts from earlier Potes & Poets books with more recent work. What do you see as the pros and cons of pulling together previously free-standing collections within one set of covers? Is anything lost in the transition?

RBD: The volumes you mention have different meanings; just sheer “collection” may seem to be their motive from the point of view of the reader, or the one who has books piled up on the floor or desk, but for writers and editors, the ways such collections feel may depend upon the situated particulars of a poetic career, both in terms of production (for still living writers) and reception (for all). Oppen and Niedecker have been fortunate in the editors of their poetry, and such major collections speak to the current richness of interest in their work, as well as to the relative belatedness (or unevenness) of their reception. In his edition, Michael Davidson had to account for some unpublished and uncollected Oppen (as I did also in Sulfur) and had to begin the taxing job of doing some annotations of hard-to-track materials and muted citations, while Jenny Penberthy had to do a textual excavation of Niedecker that is in the richest scholarly tradition of care and judgment. I have not yet seen the Raworth, but with Armantrout, the collection puts forth a body of work that has been less visible in the larger sense, due to the complicated reception of small press books. Because Rae’s work is short, it might have seemed “small”; the effect of the Wesleyan collection might enlarge it for some readers. Seeing such a lot of witty, cunning works together makes a convincing statement about the elegance of her achievement. As for me, because I am writing a long poem, it is great to see the work to date together, and also from such a strong press as Wesleyan. One thing that got lost in the move from Potes & Poets would be the covers I designed for Drafts 3-14 (“the blue Drafts”) with its turquoise cover and blue-ink collage and for Drafts 15-XXX, The Fold, with a maternal tea towel photographed to look like a rose and fold. These covers were deeply felt and deeply meant, but the compensation on Drafts 1-38, Toll is the magnificent cover I chose by Philadelphia photographer Sandy Sorlien, a cover thoroughly “Benjaminian” in its looming space and sense of both imprisonment and hope. Her cover means a great deal to me. As for other answers to what a synoptic collection “loses” —with the two Drafts in Tabula Rosa (1987, when the project had just begun), I lose what two people have recently pointed out to me by querying the status of the poem “Writing”—a 28 section serial poem in the section of the book called “Drafts” but not numbered like Drafts. (The section title clearly indicates that I was playing with that word, not entirely sure how it would configure.) Libbie Rifkin and especially Ron Silliman made me see that “Writing” is a portal poem—an entrance into the large project that immediately followed it. It was Ron who made me understand why I stubbornly “date” ”Drafts” from 1985, although the first poem (“Draft 1: It”) was not completed until 1986. It was because I mentally and emotionally understood the importance of the 1985 serial as portal into my project.

CM: Speaking of possibilities and limitations, what about the Internet? How useful have you personally found it to be in terms of publishing / reading poems and criticism? I find that I read reviews, interviews, and critical writing online, but I still don’t really settle in to read much poetry in front of my computer, nor have I taken to printing poems off of websites and reading from the hard copies.

RBD: I have not taken to it like a duck to water, but sort of like a chicken—scared, tentative, pecking all the way. But the internet has been good — EPC, HOW2, Jacket, Blogs like Silliman’s, some web-journals like logopoeia or mark (zine)—I could not think of the literary life now without those. As a place to read, however, the Internet often feels rushed, the work in eye-bytes. But it gives people a library if they don’t have a library with them every moment. And we are clearly in some time of transition about publishing and showing work, indeed, in conceptualizing work, all because of the Internet. What I also love about the Internet is precisely its international quality. It is a great tool for more universal access to education and understanding.

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