Saturday, September 15, 2018
The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him.
Berryman on Delmore Schwartz's praise of JB's poems: One word is worth it all. The sick waiting, and letting the poems go out despised, the insufferable reviewers, the silence from whatever readers; the arrogance and the sick doubt; the terrible hours of probing as at a wound, looking, looking, for what may not be there; the conscience and the dry throat, the dry eyes; the piercing hope.
Schwartz to Mark Van Doren on JB: for what he needs in the most obvious way is some kind of situation to cope with besides his own feelings.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Great book, and a palate cleanser/corrective after reading the recent River of Fire book focussing on Lowell's mania.
First seizure/manic episode in 1944 after writing "Colloquy on Black Rock."
Randall Jarrell on the intentional difficulty of modern poetry: with poet and public "staring at each other with righteous indignation, til the poet said, 'Since you won't read me, I'll make sure you can't.'"
Cold Harbor, "birth of the dogtag," in poem Inauguration Day: January 1953.
on writing prose: He wants to change every second word, but while he toys with revisions, "the subject sinks like a dead whale and lies in the mud of the mind's bottom."
most people were "warped old dogs set on lying in the sun and changing as little as rocks."
about the Beats: "the best poems are not necessarily poems that read aloud."
WC Williams was "right about our U.S. speech and emotional rhythms being unlike the British."
RL speech on the Gettysburg Address: America's "struggles with four almost insoluble spiritual problems" which the Gettysburg address had somehow adumbrated: "how to join equality with excellence, how to join liberty with justice, how avoid destroying or being destroyed by nuclear power, and how to complete the emancipation of the slaves."
Mary McCarthy on Lowell's illness: "Poor Cal, one day in seven he's as God intended him to be."
One had "a thousand opportunities to misrevise."
I looked at not long ago and I was greatly embarrassed — I thought it was very labored. I asked Heller when I interviewed him if he had used a thesaurus. He said, “Oh yes, I used a thesaurus a very great deal.” And I use a thesaurus a lot too, but not looking for a fancy word for “big.” I use it so I can vary the rhythm of what I’m writing — I want a synonym that’s three syllables, or one syllable. It’s a terrific aid to euphony, and everybody has their own idea of euphony. But the idea of plucking an obscure word out of a thesaurus is frivolous, I think.
Heller began the novel when he was 30, and published it when he was 38. There are show-offy words here and there -- and whole chunks of it seen overwritten -- but it's an extraordinary novel, and even more so for being a first novel.
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
John Leonard in the New York Times wrote: "Better than any other document I know, Going Away identified, embodied and re‐created the postwar American radical experience. It was as if On the Road had been written by somebody with brains.... (Sigal's) intelligence is always ticking. His ear is superb. His sympathies are promiscuous. His sin is enthusiasm."