#3 is finally ready to go. The first 100 copies will be printed in full by tomorrow, mailings will be complete by mid-week (at latest). Promise.
For all your patience, here's a decent chunk of the Aram Saroyan interview found in #3.
* * *Dirt
: You mentioned Finlay before. Is it safe to assume that your work was shaped by artists operating outside the realm of poetry? Beyond that, who were your early influences?Aram Saroyan
: My first big interest, pre-dating poetry, was photography (see my book Words and Photographs, Big Table, 1970), and for a while I had a sort of unspoken agenda, perhaps only half-conscious: I wanted to make a poem as immediate as a photograph. Eventually I realized the immediacy of a photograph had to do with it being instantaneous, and a poem necessarily has a reading process. However, a one-word poem, or a two word poem, and maybe a slightly longer one, is virtually instant, has virtually no reading process. I was influenced too by Warhol and the sculptor Donald Judd, and American advertising. I wanted a poem that would look good on a billboard:an oyster
And this was the Sixties, so it was sort of in the atmosphere. You're young, and the economy is still in a sort of boom phase, and you're discovering who you are, what you like. There was a nice period in there before things got dark in the later Sixties.D:
Which of your early poems holds the most resonance for you now?
: One of my favorite pieces is from Aram Saroyan:a leaf
It transcribes a specific small event: I was living in a two story house in Cambridge, Mass., and my room was on the second floor, and I found a leaf in the room, and the poem sort of transcribes the cognitive process I went through picking it up and wondering about it. That's it, it's nothing much, but it's the mind negotiating word by word toward some sort of understanding. Another similar piece is from the section 'Sled
Hill Voices' in Pages:something moving in the garden a cat
In this one it's another cognitive incident in which for a moment the eye is looking without knowing what it's seeing and then it knows. So it's an infinitesimal time frame in which something happens between the senses and the mind. I think those pieces are interesting sort of neurological transcriptions, a kind of realism that has to do with very small time frames.D
: I've heard that 'lighght', perhaps your most (in)famous poem, was the result of a typing error. Can you give that rumor a thumbs up or down?AS
: No, that one wasn't a typo (one or two others may have been). The poem adds an extra 'gh' to the word light—a silent addition that adds an element to the word as if to make the phenomenon more palpable, as if the word holds the phenomenon. I could have added another 'gh', so it would have been 'lighghght,' which I think is more than is needed, or I could have done it—as it's sometimes misspelled on the internet —'lightght, ' which doesn’t work at all by my lights (no pun intended).
I had an interesting experience a few years ago when I thought I'd do a Christmas card of the word, embossed white on white. What I discovered was that if the word is embossed then the extra 'gh' isn't necessary, because embossing makes for the equivalent palpable effect.