Student: (I think) his style (David Cope‘s style) puts forth the position of being an observer rather than it being (creative). Instead of things coming out of the mind, the poet simply reflects what he sees..)
AG: I think it’s a semantic question, actually. I mean, you know, he doesn’t simply reflect what he sees because, you see, you have to pick out something to see, or something is picked out to see. You don’t write about everything you see, otherwise you’d have thousands and thousands of pages all the time. It’s only those selected moments of perception that are particularly your attentiveness. So creator, in the sense that it’s an outline of his particular sensibility (which would be unlike anybody else’s, really – he would see his things, and somebody would see their things). Of course there are combinations in here which take it beyond just being observed, because.. but there are.. Even so, I would say, that if you can achieve being an observer, you’d be doing something good. Because I don’ t know anybody in here is going to be able to write any decent poetry to begin with. So if you can just about, you know, get yourself over the edge of reality to see what’s there to begin with, then there might be a possibility of going on and recombining it in a more Romantic form, but you can’t go..do that unless you got legs to stand on and ground to stand on and perceptions to realize. And so, I’m just reading this as a demonstration of actual perceptions that are realizable by anybody. So that anybody really can write poetry, or begin writing poetry, if they’d at least start with something real
Student: (The question reminds me of the question in photography and art..)
AG: Yeah, it’s a form.. you said it’s a form of (poetry). This is a ..a form of poetry, it’s not the only form of poetry, by any means. I.. The reason I began with Shakespeare was to point out that one element in common between Cope, Williams, Reznikoff, and Shakespeare – “When icicles hang by the wall/And Dick the shepherd blows his nail./And Tom bears logs into the hall,/And milk comes frozen home in pail..” So i’ts – Shakespeare’s got it as the basis of his intelligence, or as the ground from which he can, you know, make something prettier “- “Then nightly. sings the staring owl/Tu-whoo!/Tu-whit! Tu-whoo!… – but at least he’s got the grounding, I’m talking here, in our first class, about the grounding, from Shakespeare to the twentieth-century, grounding in some kind of actuality that everybody knows and that everybody can see, and only schizophrenics refuse to acknowledge as part of a common, simple, self-evident, reality. Just, simple as that.
Just to cut through the bullshit involved in the poetry business so we get down to some (true) place where everybody is at once, including the writer, the reader, and centuries of experience. So that you have some basis for writing poetry, and so it doesn’t become some.. a matter of.. bullshit, you know, pure bullshit, that has no correlative relationship to our everyday experience, (or extraordinary experience, for that matter).
So this is not the only kind of poetry. It’s just that poetry’s got to include facts is all I’m saying, (being) combinations of perceptions and facts – otherwise, what is it? – just words that have no reference to any psychological or physical perceptible realm? –
Yeah? – You’re looking a bit dubious.. okay..
I still would like to present all these texts because, you’ll very rarely see them, in any case, or hear them. I’m probably the only one in more than two hundred miles that’s got all these books. [David Cope’s books]. So it’s rare matter – A man of no fortune with a name to come”. [Editorial note – this last line, of course, Elpenor to Odysseus, from Canto 1 of Ezra Pound’s Cantos]
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-five-and-a-half minutes in]