Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Interview with Jim McCrary

Tom Beckett: Where did/does poetry begin for you?

Jim McCrary: Interesting. I have been pondering on that recently… One ‘memory’ of a grade school teacher telling me: “Don’t worry about spelling, just get your idea across. You are a good writer.” Well, there you go. That might be where it began. Add to that being an un-diagnosed dyslexic for 40 years. I never did learn to spell. No great loss and certainly another attraction, for me, to poetry. I could fool some of the people some of the time in a pome. (“I don’t know English” is a line from few years back). No real memory of any attraction to ‘literature’ early on.

Physically I suppose poetry really began for me the moment I walked into the Abington Bookshop in Lawrence, Kansas mid-winter 1965 and saw a copy of Grist Magazine. That was a mimeo mag done by bookshop owner John (Ezra) Fowler. And it wasn’t the poets published in that mag; I didn’t know who Wm. Wantling or Barbara Holland were. Didn’t recognize the poetics. Rather, I think, it was the actual format of Grist. Mimeo, stapled 81/2 x 11” pages and a cover of orange ‘construction paper’ like we had in school. Something easy and familiar to that. Seemed accessible. “I could do that!”. Well maybe, maybe not by the looks of my own later contributions to Grist.

Now, flipping your question there is this. The poetry I write today, like earlier this morning, where did/does that begin? I guess I listen to the same station that Jack Spicer did. I do hear words and lines and whatnot. Try and write them down for better or worse, knowing it is not verbatim, just sounds good to me. If that is what is called “making it up” then I make it up. If that is what is called “hearing it on the radio” then yes, there is that. Another key to any of this is what makes me laugh – and you, Tom, will ‘get ‘ this, I think– comes from influence (Dorn, Bromige, Grenier, Hejinian, Kyger to me the funniest American poets). And this perhaps because I am not, intellectually (my self-assessment) capable of anything else…what I get may not be what others get out of poetics. I remember going to a reading in SF by Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino, some collaboration they had done .I was almost falling out of my chair laughing. I mean this was high powered language poetics, right. Well it cracked me up anyway. I thought they were funny together and I think they might agree. But now, I am not sure I am talking about ‘humor’ so much as words in combination just make me laugh– and that gets written up. Somehow that humor deal has become a basis for my present poetics – which could, of course, change tomorrow. Who could possibly take any of this that seriously? I really can’t, it seems. The last chapbook I made is titled “My Book”. How could that be taken seriously? Jeez.




There is also something quite important in the process – something about where the beginning is going to take me, the very experience of being led one word at a time is very personal. And I trust that. I mean I am today more confident than ever that I can trust what comes…not judging the poetry I write so much as accepting it full on. Of course I am embarrassed and insecure about it all. Maybe it is crap or flarf or both or something else. . So today, for me, some words show up and get written down and pondered and reduced again and again. That is a beginning.

TB: Gee, Jim, I think quite a few of your readers take your 'homemade' aesthetic pretty seriously. I do. I think your humor is often quite serious, too. The Book of Arrogance (road kill editions, 1993) comes to mind. That work feels a lot like Ed Dorn's Abhorrences in the ways that it gets right down to skewering the issue/person at hand. For example:

FUCK
THE
NEW
AGE




we all know it is crystals
not hairspray that destroys
the ozone.



I hear what you're saying about process and trust and I wonder if you could speak to that a little more. I was interested in your making a connection with Spicer's radio, and then I thought of Spicer's method of "composition by book" and how that, to my mind, seemed to apply to you also.

JM: Tom, Yes Arrogance/Abhorrences exactly. It was homage. And it felt really, really great to write, print and send out to folks. I did hear Ed read from that book in Lawrence and a lot of people in the audience were upset with him. Just didn’t get it. And that pissed me off!! So not only homage to Ed but a way to support what he was doing. I loved Ed’s political work – the literalness of it. Shit… how clear can you get? And I am always searching for more clarity as in recent poems like "Holbox" . And to keep the metaphor going– clarity (in water) equals more depth (vision) as well (in snorkeling for instance). By that I mean levels of meaning – puns, etc - (Dorn’s Slinger).

Reverse the horizon
by turning around
Perception of ‘island’
arrives …

That little stanza from the ‘book’ Holbox… is it clear enough? I don’t think anyone could do a ‘close reading’ without realizing that it means what it says. Period. Okay…maybe there is more to it than that and I am asking the reader to realize how a ‘perception’ actually ‘arrives’ in our head(s). Well maybe and maybe not. Really that is a bonus available to the reader as far as I am concerned and that is part of my poetics. I think a sub-text of all my recent writing is trying to get the reader to contemplate how concepts come to us mentally.

Now…where is process in all that. Not much really, I just write it down and then scratch at it a bit. The stanza above came two/three weeks after returning from Mexico and then after I had been looking at a photograph of Isla Holbox. The perception of the line in that stanza arrived to me as I was looking at the photo and realizing that we were constantly walking from one side to the other of the island (4-5 small sandy blocks). And then realizing that the line “reverse the horizon” is weird in its own way , you know; Can your really do that? Ack! Now that is the kick I want embedded for the reader if they choose…the kick I get out of it. I always look for a what the fuck was that kind of double take. A simple pleasure I would imagine. There is a lot more about process going on in that poem Holbox and we can talk about that later. Thinking about the inserted narrative, the narrative I put in as a visual pun ..’the day just went by’. I’ll give the reader some narrative and the rest can be imagined, if desired.

Finally, the ‘composition by book” thought. Hummmm. Not exactly sure what you or Spicer meant by that. In the obvious sense, I have been writing ‘books’ for a while. Or at least poems that I like to separate out and publish singularly rather than in a magazine, for example. Going back to Edible Pets, 1986, or Book of Arrogance, Mayaland, Holbox and Hotter than and now. Each of these books fewer than 20 pages, chapbooks really. As I am writing them I see how I will ‘publish’ them, see them (don’t we all) on the page. And now I don’t know where any of that is coming from, really. I guess part of it is just giving up sending work out to publications….not for lack of interest on publisher’s part but lack of energy on my part. Plus I have always liked to ‘publish’ stuff – broadsides, chapbooks, pamphlets and/or ‘zines. I don’t know what this has to do with anything, but I was noticing in my library the other day that there are hardly any magazines from last 3-4 years which indicates to me that either I have lost interest or lost touch with publishers. Part of that is the obvious fix I get from on-line poetics so no longer looking for hard copy pubs. Sad maybe, but true.

TB: I'm not surprised that you're getting a regular fix "from on-line poetics," a lot of us are these days. What does surprise me is that you aren't putting out a blog. What's up with that? I think you'd be a natural. Your guest-blogging efforts on the Lawrence, Kansas of yore were terrific.

JM: Thanks for the kind words, Tomas. Ah….well….ah….. I am a lazy fuck who would rather watch Inside Hollywood after work than type a blog. Ha ha. I like the idea of a blog and think it is sort of what I liked about doing the zine Smelt Money few years ago – the ease of putting it together and tossing it out the door. Was kind of a hard copy blog before they became so popular. Now, though, just don’t feel I have enough to say on a daily basis and I really hate going to blogs that don’t change every day. I am now fully addicted and want something new when I click through in the mornings. Like everyone else I have my few – yours, Crag Hill, Richard Lopez, Silliman, Chris Murray and a couple of folks in Mexico I keep track of. That’s about it. So I really don’t depend on them to provide a lot of poetry to read. I mean folks still send me the occasional book and I do buy something when I can find it or order thru local independent bookseller. I do miss, though, getting torn, battered copies of House Organ or Lost and Found Times in the mail. What I think really keeps me from blogging is the fear that I would revert to (as I have seen on other blogs) spitting out my daily life in all its dearierness – you know what I mean….or posting photo’s of pets or what I am reading.

Well, it is still kinda mid-winter out here today and that could be another influence. Maybe when spring breaks and the squirrels are humping each other in the back yard I will become a blogger. Who knows?

TB: Your backyard is in Lawrence, Kansas. A very particular place. How does a sense of place figure for you in your writing?

JM: Well it was very fucking particular Sunday morning when large trees were flying around the neighborhood – a ‘microburst’ they called it – a tornado I call it. Anyway, I knew you were gonna ask this one. Couldn’t we just talk about favorite pool tables and beers and taverns with worn out floors and orange, cracked vinyl covered booths? I’ll pick you up after work Friday and we’ll chase down Tom Waits…I know he’s up there in a Ohio beer joint.

Okay…uh…. Yeah… place. For one thing, earlier talking about my ‘introduction’ to poetics (Lawrence in mid-sixties) it was all about place – anchored in a place like Cleveland, Ohio; NYC; San Francisco. Olson, Snyder, Creeley, Kyger, Dorn etc etc etc. Caterpillar (C. Eshleman) and IO (R. Grossinger) and D.A. Levy and Doug Blazak etc etc. Not to mention the place of Paul Blackburn in NYC. Aside: I actually stayed in his apartment when he made his last trip to Spain late 60’s. A friend had sub-leased the apartment there on E. 7th Street next to McSorleys. God it was great.) So that was, I mean, people talking deeply about ‘there’ place – so it was an easy subject for sure. And interesting because that was a focal point for the new culture, you know, we were leaving our birth places, traveling was a new life style etc etc blah blah. Anyway…yes simply put place was accessable as subject. But of course that grew and expanded over the years for me for sure. Today still stuck in place and that is okay with me And after all these years to still find interest in the ‘found poetics of a place’. But there is another side for me, personally, because place and landscape and intrepretation of all that was an alternative to more intellectual or academic poetics of which I was not much aware or educated about. I was not then very well read at all….not in depth…other than a few college survey courses…hadn’t read much poetry at all. So again, writing about place I had a shield so to speak. I mean, I love to read theory and criticism, I have taken Perloff with me on vacation to the beach – just to ponder it. And hopefully, like doing crosswords in NY Times, good exercise….but I don’t always “get” it. You know, my wife, Sue and I have taken 14-15 trips to Central America and Mexico since we’ve been married…pretty much all over down there. Every winter. So….traveling has always been attractive and I think, naturally, creates a situation that is conducive to writing somehow as exercise. That’s what it comes down to for me…..the experience of different…..trying out new places and ways to write about that. I really don’t know what else to say about how place fits into things. It is just natural to me to ‘include it in’.
What’s embarrassing now is to look back on some of that writing about place….ugh…as if I was a “plaine aire” poet. Well that was then. Hopefully I have progressed and been influenced enough to have achieved something a bit more substantial.

I guess, again, place is that starting point a lot of the time for me. Whether it shows up in the writing or not….if that makes any sense. I think it does. In a funny way.

What does it all come down to…………I can never forget where I am. Where I yam. Where I yammer from.

TB: What do you think poetry does?

JM
: Well this is what it does to me personally. . This came to me last nite after watching some nonsense about the Da Vinci Code Trial on the Tee Vee and it came just as you see it below, no editing yet on my part. They were talking about Mary Magdalen and I always thought she was the only person in Bible I would want to share a jar of wine with since she had some interesting hallucinations and a pretty cool foot fetish and, they say, married Hayzeus and had some kids. So I get this mess in my head and then I type it up and now look at it. This is what poetry does to me! This is what I have to deal with. This is what I hear. Now what to do with it? Poetry is either a horrible waste of time or the only true entertainment I can create for myself. What is this I wrote? Gobbledegook or poetry? What to do with it? Select all/delete? Change a few lines? Shit-can it? Expand? Implode? Did Mike McClure write a play about Billy the Kid and Mary? Fuck….you see what it does to me? How can I sort it all out? Oh, wait…your question? Was that about all of poetry and what that does? Fuck me! Now I am really confused and that IS what poetry does – to me – thank you very much for asking. I love it when my head is spinning and this below is what results. I also like the possibilities of what “poetry” might do to this new poem…what I might do to this text with my poetics. Like totally fuck edit it away to nothing. That gets me going too – all the possibilities. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Tom----you still there????


Mary oh Mary
She was lost but found again
Which could be for real
Was she than
And then again
Was she onto him the one
Was she lost then found again
Does any of that matter
Of course not
Today it is simple
Mussing
Time spent considering a mess
Who ya gonna believe
And why
Unless of course
There is money to be made
And there is
Ah….take Mary for me
Take her for me again and again
Take her to the one she knows
Take her to the one she knows
Itz za zame ol ztory
You can find it in any book
Its writ in stone perhaps
Seen in da smoke of da burning bush perhaps
Nailed on a cross perhaps
In the end
As fiction
It wont last
You can quote me on that!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

TB: Do you work that way a lot--riffing in response to something and then editing from there? Clearly, sometimes you must start from more of an over-arching concept--The Book of Arrogance comes to mind, as does Edible Pets (I was thinking about these two chapbooks, in particular, when I asked earlier about composing by book).


JM: You're right about both concepts. I do riff around and try to be open to whatever is out there. Takes a lot of time then, later, to rid text of unwanted or useless stuff. But the method is entertaining – waiting to see what appears rather than a pre-conceived notion.

Now – pre-conceived is exactly what both Arrogance and Edible Pets were about. As I mentioned earlier – Arrogance was a pure response to Ed’s Abhorrences. Wanted to really localize that concept of direct, political response – naming names and calling names without regard to anyone else’s notions. In that sense of "Heretics" that Ed was fond of. And on my part always aware of the towering intellect and education Ed had, which put many miles between me and him. So over the years pretty much kept it to a contemporary discussion for my sake as I couldn’t keep up with his historic mental capacity. We gossiped and talked politics and compared Lawrence to Boulder/Denver, Kansas to Colorado, etc, etc. He loved to know “what was going on” and I was proud to have been an informer. So…therefore, the insane and stupid politics of the daily world was perfect subject matter and Arrogance was an easy book to put together. Read the paper. Write it up.

Edible Pets, if memory serves, comes from a story David Bromige told me about he and his daughter, the beautiful Margaret (age 6-7) at the local park visiting the duck pond. Something about a homeless character lurking about. David is, as you know, a great storyteller. So a few days later I am walking across the campus of Sonoma State when the title came. Easy then as the title pretty much explained the book to me. Then it was simply making a list of critters, checking it twice and trusting my sense of humor. Of course, it could have been longer and included more species of animal or more politics – but it seemed to come out pretty short and then stop. Bam. That’s done. Great. What’s next? So I guess a Virgo thing (?) not sure. I like things that have a beginning and an end although I also like things that are cloudy or vague, especially vague. I am accused by wife of being vague a lot – I do like it though. That may be another influence on “composing by book”. Who knows, eh?

Well here is the really strange part of your question. About a month ago, out of the blue, I get an email from a woman in California. She had been a student at Sonoma State in 1986 and was now wanting to make a video “Revisiting Edible Pets”. She had worked on the literary magazine which first published that text and had heard me read it. Now, 20 years later, she is asking if I would make a video reading the poem and send it to her. I did without knowing who she was or what she wanted to do. Trust. So just the other day a DVD shows up in mail box and it is her video and it is great and quirky and cool – with her putting a context to the reading I sent her, and her response to the poem. Very nice. Maybe someday we can get her permission to post on web.

TB: Now that's a DVD I'd love to see.
Have you done other projects of a collaborative nature?

JM: Well as of now she seems rather reluctant to make the video public. Ah it's her choice. Maybe some day. About collaborative projects I haven’t really done much. A long time ago a poem of mine was made into a stage play by a local theatre group. But other than that no. Sue (my wife the painter) and I have talked about collorabating but nothing has come of that. Most collaborative efforts I’ve seen in past like O’Hara/Rivers or Berrigan/Padgett seemed to be pretty much ego-driven and not much to me. I do like the little book David Bromige and Opal Nation collaborated on back in late 1980’s (can't remember the title) and there is a book, a long poem between Bay Area poet Dan Davidson and ????? which I really like a lot. I think it came out after Dan passed away. But other than that. Nope.

TB: I believe the Bromige/Nation book is You See (Exempli Gratia Press, 1986) and that the other is probably Absence Sensorium by Tom Mandel and Daniel Davidson (Potes & Poets Press, 1997). And, you are right, they are both excellent collaborations.

What I like about collaborations is that they tend to work against ego-drivenness, insofar as one needs to pay attention to what one's partner is doing in order to make one's own next move. It can be like improvising music, or making love. I hope you and your wife do go on to work on a project. I think that you would both learn some interesting things from the process.

Speaking of love…who are the writers whom you think of as your poetic forebears? And who are the contemporary writers whose work you return to most often?

JM: (Thanks for those titles, Tom. I am sneaking in my response here at work so don’t have my library at hand.) Yeah, Sue sometimes lets me write on her paintings although neither of us have been very happy with results. And in my book Dive, She Said there is a collaboration with Judy Roitman where we traded stanzas in a poem and you're right about the interplay. I guess I was being my usual xenophobic NYC self in the comments above (I have always liked more of what is in NYC than what comes out of NYC.)

Okay…poetic forebears? As influence…I don’t think I can go much past Pound into history and claim any. But I will always recall the first time I heard Pound on tape back in 1970’s – what a great voice and something about how he read. As in my generation I would have to make mention of Jack Spicer, Lew Welch, Robert Duncan, Kerouac, as early influence. Than later a great influence was a brief friendship with David Ignatow. He was a visiting writer here at University of Kansas in late 60’s and invited The Fugs to town. Whew. That was influence for sure. And later when I lived in NYC spent time visiting Ignatow – a beautiful man and fierce anti-war, far leftist poet. Here in Lawrence John (Ezra) Fowler and Charlie Plymell were around. And then of course, Snyder, Olson, Dorn, Blackburn as already mentioned.

But who do I return to??? I don’t think I have read Olson in 10 years. But Larry Eigner I read over and over and over. Haven’t read Snyder in a long, long time but I have read and re-read Mina Loy a lot and will continue. Don’t ask me why. Creeley of course. Then and now. Duncan I do go back to and Joanne Kyger too. I am now re-reading some of Pounds letters and will probably do that again. I haven’t read the Lunch Poems for a long time and probably won't – but don’t tell Steve Tills!!! Then I do read Tom Beckett, Crag Hill, Christine Murray, Ron Silliman, Nick Piombino and Susan Smith Nash blogs almost daily for the poetics rush. And then there are folks here in Lawrence – Ken Irby, John Moritz, Judy Roitman, John Mayhew.

I guess if I had an IPod, which I don’t, it would have Pound (Cantos), Dorn (Book III, Slinger),
anything by Kyger, Tiny Courts by Bromige, My Life by Lyn Hejinian, Lost Luna Baedeker by Mina Loy, Mexico City Blues by Kerouac, something by Steve Tills, something by Mary Rose Larkin, something by Susan Howe for sure, for sure, for sure.

I can also somehow predict that my IPOD would have a lot of ‘empty’ space on and really, in the end, that might be what I prefer overall and enjoy the most. Why just this past Sunday afternoon Sue and I and my son Quincy and his friend Milinda went for a long walk in the Konza Prairie out west of here and brother that sky, that wind, that quiet, that air will knock the crap outta ya and get ya right. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

TB: I laughed when I read that Ignatow invited The Fugs to Lawrence, but it makes sense in terms of those times--the anti-war ethos led people to mingle and embrace in ways they might not have otherwise. I was a huge fan of Ignatow in the early '70s. It tickles me to learn that you knew and liked him.

That Lawrence nexus of yourself, Irby, Moritz, Roitman and Mayhew is an interesting one. Those are certainly the names I most associate with contemporary Lawrence. What is the poetry 'scene' (for lack of a better term) like in Lawrence these days?

JM: That’s great you knew Ignatow. Yeah, I don’t remember all the details but my friend George Kimball and I would leave Manhattan and go out on a train to the Hamptons. Was all very Frank O’Hara, eh? Well not really. But I think David and his wife were very generous and patient hosts to invite drugged out Kansas hippies out to their home. And then we would come back into town and go over to Sam Abrams apartment and mooch his dope and booze and talk about ‘the revolution’. Well, those were the days.

You asked about a poetry ‘scene’ in Lawrence. I suspect it is probably quite like other college towns what with a couple bars that have regular spoken word open mic series. And Henry Rollins rolls through town once and a while, and there are some guest writers at the University – but not much of interest. Jon Mayhew does do a Poetics Seminar through KU and invites interesting folks like Ron Silliman, Margorie Perloff, David Shapiro, Jordan Davis and others. But for the most part it is our group mentioned above that gather at Lee Chapman’s house to eat and drink. Lee, of course, publishes First Intensity Magazine and books. So we gather and gossip and drink and eat and that is about it. If there is a scene in Lawrence today it goes on after we are all tucked in bed for the night. And you know where that is at!!!.

If people want to see more of the Lawrence poets just mentioned, Steve Tills pubished a Lawrence issue of Black Spring Magazine in 2005. Poets Irby,Roitman, Mayhew, McCrary, , Goldberg, Moritz etc and essays by Susan Smith Nash, D. B. Chirot, M. R. Larkin, Steve Ellis. More info at: http://theenk.blogspot.com.

TB: I'm reminded somehow of "D(r)awn",from dive, she said . It begins with this first line:, "is it my imagination/or a difficult sleep." "D(r)awn" is a beautiful title. Your equation of the birth of a day with depiction is elegantly expressed. And that opening is gorgeous in the way it limns the borders of creative consciousness.

Consciousness, I think, dimly, and return to the book title, dive, she said, with its echo of the famous Creeley line, "drive, he sd." I think, too, of the gender shift.

You go down, whereas Creeley goes onward?

JM: You're too kind. Indeed. Man, I wish I could go back to the time of writing that work. And now the only way to do that is reading – from here – as would anyone else. I have to approach my own work, now, as an other. Well, that’s okay with me. What pleases me, really gets me off, in the end, is the unexpected. In this case, the title dive, she said is literal transcription on my part. It is there on the cover. She (Sue) sitting outside the room looking down to diving board, said Dive!. He (me) is standing on diving board, hears her, and leaps. She (Sue) takes a photo. Photo is now on cover of a book and the title derived from the conversation. Ha, ha. Right. Now comes from Seenyore Beckett, another look at that, in his way – down the new direction. Ahh. I could not imagine writing one more word of that called poetry if I knew or had exhausted all the possibilities before hand. And I don’t know how usual or unique that is? Back to the title “D(r)awn” – may have come from having a copy of
How(ever) – or that just having the visual stuff in mind at the time from J. Bennett et al in Ohio. For sure wanting to emphasize on the page some further possibility for the reader to ponder. Or not. As mentioned above somewhere – it all seems to be my trying to spell out how it comes or where and how it comes from in me. "is it my imagination/or a difficult sleep." Trying to be as literal as possible while keeping in mind that nothing is literal. Making sense of the senselessness of sleep vs. wake. By the way my favorite line in that poem is: “a dog is spotted walking down the street…”.

TB: "Trying to be as literal as possible while keeping in mind that nothing is literal." Not a bad mantra for a poet, in any era, but especially in this time of virtual reality .

What, as a poet, do you most worry about?

JM: Jeez…that is a good one. As a poet eh? Well, I don’t worry about the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that is for fucking sure. More worry about poet friends who implode blogs or live in Sacramento on a flood plain. And I probably worry more about losing my mind than anything, if you know what I mean. Literally that is. And I guess I do worry about virtual reality in some ways –“ worry it to death” my mom used to say like thinking or studying on it. Not that I lose any sleep over virtual reality. I did lay awake last night wondering what Bob Grenier’s reading in New York the other day was like. I saw something about it on the Poetics List, and always, to me, interesting to imagine Mr. Grenier’s poetics in person. Wished I had been out to New York for that ‘reading’. Anyway on a bad or tired day I worry that what I write is crap and I am only being somehow mollycoddled by all my so called poetic friends who really think my poetry is shit but that I am “such a nice guy”….etc. etc. etc. And here, Tom, understand not personal to this conversation or interview for certain…but I can flip at times and wonder. I guess we all, as self-described poets, live with isolation and that is a bother. No matter how many poets in Lawrence, or Kent or San Francisco – one can feel outside. Shit happens. . Like Dorn, when asked if he knew his audience, he answered yes, in fact knew 'em personally. Well me too, all 25 of em. And that is good and certainly I don’t worry about expansion of readership at this point. I am thrilled that I can still see to write and read what I write and, as occasionally, get some kind of juice out of the words as they appear. Even better to get some kind of feedback that indicates attention to what I have written as has been taking place between us here.

Speaking of virtual reality or the www or whatever….I guess I do worry that somehow the combined forces of web and capitalism and religion or all three or space aliens or something, really I do think about this, will somehow come together to collapse the English language as we know it, and the result is monospeak of some sort. A revert to ugh(ing) or growl (ing) or screetch (ing) like who needs speech when you have an info chip in your neck that has all the “speech” anyone would want. That to me the saddest thing to worry about – that the language I use and know and live with (in), talk with, look at, feel in my head – that “this” I am using so poorly just now….would be gone, erased. “Well, god damn, you can fucking well blame the fuckall school of fucking quietude for that when it fuckall happens!!!” (I channel E.Pound at times True.)

Whew. Beer please. Thank you.

TB: Glug, glug. A final question. What keeps you going, what keeps you interested ?

JM: More than anything, just this, your questions get me wound up a bit and kick me out of the usual work-a-day muddle I exist in. I guess reading other peoples work also keeps me going and interested as well, although I don’t read today as much as I used too. And the hope that new work will appear and I will learn about it i.e. that Beckett or Grenier or Lopez or Roitman or somebody will have some new writing that I can somehow track down and be inspired and entertained by. And yeah, include Stone Cold Poetry Bitches in that mix as well – it does meet all my requirements – and when all you have is dial up Juno and you don’t have cable or HBO or wi-fi or satellite – you take what you can get. I’ll take Behrle! And just never know what will strike me as interesting – keep me going. Whatever it is I hope it continues not only for me but for a lot of others as well. And you know who that is, eh? I depend on a whole lot of people for that poetic fix. Gotta have it. Gonna keep needing and wanting it as well. Let us hope it continues. Poets don’t fail me now!!!

And Tom, it has been great. Thanks for asking.

TB: It's been a pleasure.

7 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Jim, that reading with Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalopino, was that the "Valentine's Day" reading, and didn't David Melnick read from his Men in Aida book (Tuumba, 1983) that day/evening, too. Then again, my memory sees the Valentine's Day poming as occurring in the evening, after nightfall, and the Melnick reading occurring during daylight hours, in the afternoon, although it could still have been the same reading, just with Melnick reading earlier in the program and Hejinian and Scalopino (and maybe Carla Harryman, in a collaboration, I think) reading later in the program. Well, we probably took the reading in together, Jim, or the two readings... Anyway, wasn't it a "Valentine's Day" reading. This is important, Jim, so try to remember! Yes, it was hilarious stuff. You were probably there and I was probably there, Ha!

1:37 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Yes, the D.B./Opal Nations collab was "You See." Tom, you accepted a review of "You See" that I wrote for your Difficulties' David Bromige issue... More recently, David Bromige has done a fair bit of collaborations with Richard Denner, their cantos series called Spade. Highly recommended.

2:01 PM  
Blogger shanna said...

hmm, i was going to ask if it was maybe an excerpt from "Sight," that LH & LS read--but i wasn't there! i just happened to be reading that poem/laying it out in this big ol' collaboration anthology i'm working on right now. just a few pages back, in fact.

(another terrific interview, tb.)

2:57 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

It was so long ago, Shanna, I'm guessing 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989... Hence, cannot remember exactly, but it ("Sight") could be the one... Can you quote some of it?

Thank you for your comments!

Steve :)

8:53 AM  
Blogger karen Sexton said...

hey mc crary.. reading this after not hearing about you and then hearing your name 3 times in the last month. re-membering you joann charley pam ed and i in that old farmhouse outside lawrence high on words and other sources cold as hell.1965 and at a party in bernal heights hill at someones house[mine?] you talking lucidly one minute and the next falling like a downed tree as we all looked on with surprise1966!
karen sexton sitting on a cybermesa in new mexico

9:49 AM  
Blogger Jim McCrary said...

Karen Sexton....saw your website on net but no email for you...el rito...holy shit...close friends lived there for years...perhaps we crossed paths..just visited with charlie plymell who was in town...think of you guys all the time and the times too. if you see this email me at sueandjim5@juno.com

take care.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Andy Milberg said...

Hi Jim,

Given your poetic style, it's interesting that your son published a book of Haiku.

One Breath by Joshua Wikoff

10:30 AM  

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