Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ygdrasil Publishes "The Deprivathon"

I found a home for "The Deprivathon," my over 300-line poem about quitting smoking. I wrote the rough draft in 2000, I believe, so it's taken about six years to muscle that white elephant in to publishable shape. And I did a bad thing, something you should never do as a poet, just like you should never play in public with new strings as a guitarist: I sent Klaus Gerken, the generous editor, some last minute revisions and weakened the poem. I won't tell you where or it might spoil the experience of reading it in Ygdrasil Ygdrasil is unbelievable, a zine that has been around since 1993. And it's format has never changed; like Jack Kerouac's famous On the Road, the magazine always appears as a continuous typewritten page. I hadn't sent them anything since 1998. That behavior comes from my trophy hunting days. To what do I refer?

When I first came out of my year-long depression of 1996, I began publishing on the net with good success. I sought to publish in as many e-zines as possible. Trouble was, once I published in one I forgot about it and put it in the trophy case. After publishing hundreds of pieces I finally slowed down and began submitting much less. That also had to do with a relative lack of stability in my personal life.

I should have spent the time submitting to eminent print journals. I didn't for the simple reason of e-mail. I'm as lazy as the next guy. Why do bears raid trash cans? Because it's easier than hunting and gathering. Nature never passes up a chance to be lazy, why should I?

As I said in an earlier post, I am not in remission from depression. I am much improved but I feel fragile. The freedom depression gives one, the new start, has not been a pony ride so far. I feel light and dark at the same time, the Tootsie Pop image recurs, or an Oreo, or a clean engine with dirty oil inside, you get the picture. I feel the medications holding me back like a needed harness; how I wish I could jump over the pit to real freedom!

Remaining symptoms? I love Kathleen intellectually and by faith but I feel disconnected from the warm, fuzzy feelings I usually have for her. I see that she's beautiful; I see that she loves me like no one else has; I see she is the best mate I could hope for; yet she and I both sense a lingering barrier between us, and we know it's on my side. In that she suffers depression as well, she understands even if she doesn't like it. Other symptoms include a plethora of self-castigating thoughts and a melancholy remainder that asks, "What's it all about?" (apologies to Peggy Lee and Alfie).

Going through a depression strips you of everything, all attachments, all likes and loves. On the other side, once released, you have the freedom to dump anything from your life with essentially no regret.

It irks me that I have a love-hate relationship with poetry. I enjoy composing it more than reading it, though I read much more than I write. A good poem can make me praise God, but a mediocre one, especially in a prestigous journal, sets my teeth on edge.

It takes a lot to read good poetry, it takes a concentrated mind and an open heart. I'm rarely in that state of mind. I'm used to disappoinment in poetry, mainly from reading my recognized contemporaries. Last night I was reading William Carlos Williams, Eliot's contemporary and opposite. I gave him an even break and tried to enjoy his work. (Did you know he published his first book of poetry in 1914, before Eliot did?)

Maybe the reason I love poetry is that it is the only thing that forces me to be economical with speech.


Behaviorally, I must put my self-image into reinforcement mode. If someone now asks me, "What do you do?" I'll reply, "I'm a poet," and roll with the punches. I can always chicken out and shade my reply: "I dabble in literature. I've had a few things published. Poetry is sort of a hobby." And due to the fact that my depression is not in full remission, I will waver between the two approaches, which will add uncertainty to my self-view.

Oh shut up, Craig! Enough already. You know it's all chemical.

But something has to be my fault.

Thanks to Norm for speaking well of my music. Anyone who wants a free disk need only write me with their snail mail address.

Enough for a Sunday already...

I have the distinct feeling that if I should ever re-read my blog, I will be sorely embarrassed about the degree of narcissism on display. Think of me as a work in progress and my blog the necessary exhaust vapors from my self-manufacturing.

At 1.5 kilorats,



  1. What an interesitng venue -- Ygdrasil. Reading "The Deprivathon," at least sections II and IX, made me think of Kaddish and Footnote to Howl. I'm sure that writing the poem was not an easy experience. The form kept me reading. Good ending.

    I studied Eliot -- sometimes I think too much -- Wrote a thesis on the heroic journey, as in Campbell's heroic cycle, in Eliot's poetry and drama. At that time, I had harsh things to say and dream about Williams. I've since changed -- or reformed, not sure which -- my view. But, it took me on summer of reading Williams from start to finish. It was an adjustment for me, but I'm glad I did.

  2. Sam, you amaze me. You're one of the few that has read Paterson through. I admire the shit out of you!

    Williams seems jaggedly frenetic next to Eliot; Williams is American and Eliot became more British than the Brits.

    There's life in Williams but I'm not sure if he did enough self=editing; I see lots to trim in his verse. Also in presenting reality qua reality, often the situation he describes controls the poem. The poem should determine what happened, not what actually happened. Why we call it art.

    Your thesis? M.A. or Ph. D.?

    I'll trade you Eliot essays if you like. ;-0

  3. M.A. If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably focus on Bishop.

    The Waste Land has played such a pivotal role in my life. I have Eliot's recordings, and one year listend to his reading TWL 365 days in a row. It was wonderful.

    The Williams of Kora in Hell & Spring and All is fantastic. Also, Pictures from Brueghel. Paterson is too flabby for my taste. Doesn't have the fire of his earlier works.

  4. "The Waste Land" did the same for me. You ever read my piece on it?

    I can't believe you listened TWL daily for a year. You are a true devotee of the art and should be teaching at a university.

    I have "Pictures from Brueghel" in storage, and yes, there he is in stride.

  5. I've read your Eliot essays at Melic and like your take on his work -- especially the early poems.


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