Alan Davies sends this message with a p.s. giving permission to post it on my blog. I sent him a response, but his hotmail account was full and bounced it back. I append it at the end of this message.
I ENJOYED OUR CONVERSATION YESTERDAY AT BPC.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU HAVE STARTED A BLOG. (WHEN WILL IT (I(NTERNE)T) EVER END?)
YOU SAID THAT YOU HAD POSTED TO IT A STATEMENT VALUING GLITTER AS A COMPONENT OF POETRIES. AND THAT KEVIN (KNOWING THAT YOU LIKE MY WORK) HAD ASKED YOU WHERE THE GLITTER IS IN IT. I MENTIONED TO YOU THAT LINE (Waves scoop up the mandarin ducks…) FROM A HAN SHAN POEM. THE ACTUAL GLITTERS.
WE TALKED ABOUT JAPANESE PACKAGING AND THE DETAILS OF THE DAILY THERE AND OF HOW THEY TOO GLIMMER IN THEIR BRIGHT OBDURATE SOFTNESS.
LATER IN THE EVENING OTHER THOUGHTS BEGAN TO APPEAR. (FOR EXAMPLE) YOUR WORK COULD BE SEEN AS THE GLITTER IN / ON MY WORK. (THIS IS OBVIOUSLY NOT TO SUGGEST THAT THAT IS MORE THAN A HAPPENSTANCE OF OUR PROXIMITIES.) WE DO MAKE THINGS IN COMMUNITIES. GLOSSES (CROSS-GLOSSES) DO OCCUR. WILLIAM BURROUGHS SPOKE (AND I CAN’T FIND ANY FAULT IN THIS THINKING AT ALL) ABOUT THE LANGUAGE AS A VIRUS. SO TO SAY THAT YOUR WORK IS PART OF MY WORK AND THE CHARACTERISTICS OF YOURS APPEAR ON / AGAINST MINE IS ONLY TO STATE THE (REALLY) OBVIOUS. AND WHAT I’M SAYING IS NOT ABOUT INFLUENCE. IT’S JUST THAT IT ALL BLOSSOMS IN THIS ONE WORLD TOGETHER. I SEE THE TOADSTOOL ON THE LOG. I SEE THE FUNGUS ON THE ROCK. I HEAR THE WATER TRICKLING UNDER BOTH.
I’M REMINDED TOO OF THE PIECE BY DOGEN THAT I READ AT THE BROKEN SAUCER READING THAT YOU SPONSORED AFTER 9/11. HIS “FLOWERS IN THE SKY” AND HIS “FLOWERS IN THE EYE” ALTHOUGH THEY MEAN MAYBE VERY DIFFERENT THINGS FROM WHAT I’VE BEEN SHEDDING HERE DO STILL LET FALL THEIR GLIMMER ON MY WORK (AS THEY DID THAT NIGHT ON MY _PAIN_ AND ON MY PAIN).
I like your transmogrification of ornament into glitter. Glitter is only one sort of decoration ( I think I may actually have been imagining something more like arabesques and added designs), but I like what it evokes: light on water, seven-year-old-girls’ craft supplies and nail polish, and Bowie. And I like it with a Brooklyn accent, too.
I don’t have any problem with the idea of influence. I mean of your having influenced me. As I have been reading your work so avidly for a couple of decades, since I was a quite young person. You were the only one of your crew whose writing helped sustain me in Japan (in large part because of the influence of Japanese sensibilities on *you*), the only one in whom I could detect an interesting pattern of growth, the only one unafraid to take not just formal risks but personal ones too. I’m not saying your peers didn’t produce interesting work between the years of 1988 and 1999, but in a sense they had already made their statements and most of what followed were elaborations. (I can think of a few exceptions, including some of Barry’s recent memoir work, but *in the main* I think this is true).
You may sometimes build your own orthodoxies and make absolute statements, but you very often contradict them too, sometimes in a gestural way, with poems. You never wrote yourself into a corner. No, come to think of it, you did, but you documented (maybe several times) your self-entrapment in writing and then you wrote yourself out again. I always found that movement liberating and touching, and I identified with it (I’m not much of a Brechtian) much in the same way I identify with Kafka when I read his journals. I identify also with the brazen “yearniness” (I talk about this on the blog a little) in your writing, so taboo among most of the principal others of your generation. Plus you orientalize like crazy (don’t get angry, I don’t mean that in the bad colonializing sense), something I couldn’t help doing myself when I lived in the mysterious east, beguiled by its myriad charms.
So yes, there is a lot of influence — direct influence! But I’m not sure if it’s something that would be so evident to a third party. In fact, I wonder if they might see no connection at all. I am less given than you to plain statement in poems, and feel almost unable to attain the kind of lucidity I’m sure your practice helps you reach. Or maybe it’s more unwilling than unable. As if lucidity would take me outside of the noisiness and excitation, the bubbling adrenaline hum my poems seem to come from. I mean, I guess, I’m afraid of not being confused. Or afraid of not being ridiculous.
My work *is* part of your work, but filtered through an entirely different sieve of sensibilities, no less peculiar than yours, to be sure, but utterly different. Maybe if you’d been a woman raised by hippies instead of a man raised by Seventh Day Adventists. Can you imagine?