I sat down here today (it’s early here today)
& said, “I’m going to write something
powerful!” & then I said, “That’s the
worst fucking idea I’ve ever had.”
The lines above are the first stanza of HTAYKSSS, a poem by Justin Sirois, that will be in his new book, the next new NewLights book, The Heads. Yesterday as I retyped those lines they made me think of my own early morning writing, the writing that often ends up on this blog.
And so we begin to collect the brilliant pieces of the last month, a month engaged in intense discussion and thought about the thing, the usual thing, the every-thing, the making of books. We will see if we can make this last month into a “turning point.” I have a feeling now that those can only occur retrospectively. The most important thing is the follow through.
Work has begun, in a real way, on The Heads. I spent the weekend retyping the poems. Retyping wasn’t necessary in terms of efficiency—I was retyping them from the printout of the text doc that is already on my computer. Retyping is a way to really, almost literally, spend some time in the poems.
Retyping is an activity that grows out of my experience of setting texts in lead type. It allows me to get to know the texts in a way different from the (often too ephemeral) experience of reading, even of close reading. One has to look at how the poems are built—how is capitalization handled? Just how much space is there between these lines? Just how far should those indents go? Etc.
Editing and designing a book tend to be more “big picture” activities. Retyping the poems is a way of getting to know the forest by looking very carefully at the individual trees.
Retyping also turns the poems sharply towards me, as I prepare to reproduce, to multiply, them. The first imprinting of the book occurs in my consciousness. The trick now is to make that individual experience and imprinting many, multiple, public, shared, accessible, wondrous, etc.
Going carefully through the poems again this weekend also made me remember how much I believe in them, how excited I am to have the chance to help make them a part of the world. They were made strange. I couldn’t believe them.
& so it begins again &