|April 1999||Café Society's Poetry News Update|
WITH KEITH HENDRICKS
Keith Gabriel Hendricks was born October 6th, 1969, in Washington Courthouse, Ohio, the United States of America. He matriculated from The Ohio State University with a BA in 1993 and MFA in 1996. His poems have been published in yefief, Tight, The Wayne Literary Review, Time of Singing, the Penguin Review, The Presbyterian Record, and Sisters Today.
|Poetry L & T:||What inspired you to begin writing the unique, surreal style of poetry that you write today, Keith?|
Though I could cite a variety of literary allusions, on exhuming my buried life I feel it was
Professor Stuart Lishan praising the lines:|
"like brine shrimp
in "Re A Poem On Memory."
Many nights I've written poetry while listening to the Boston Camerata, and I feel their interpretations of the early interval are an important indirectinfluence. Similarly, my greatest influence, as a young poet, were the paintings of Renoir--though now I believe his attempts at sensuosity were tempted, and not tempered, by sensuality. The soprano Anne Azema's renditions of medieval psalmody in The Sacred Bridge were an early inspiration.
Young poets need their particular, peculiar, influences like cars need gasoline, so rather than feeding them sources, let them find what is appropriate to their 'metrical demeanor.' Better a je ne sais quoi than a faux pas; there are too many poetasters committing poetical misdemeanors.
As for my list of favorites: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Denise Levertov, Robert Bly, e.e. cummings, Frank O'Hara, Dali, Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrillard, Camille Paglia, Jon Milton, Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca, Arthur Rimbaud, Escher, Marinetti's "Futurist Manifestoes," Thomas Merton, Ovid, Umberto Eco, the architect Kisho Kurokawa, Nam June Paik, Eugene Ionesco, and Kenneth Koch.
|Poetry L & T:||Another poem on the subject of religion was far more serious - "The Best Age to Spank The Children of the Lord". In that one you are speaking to someone who appears to have come under the dangerous influence of a fanatical preacher. Do you feel that it is generally important for poets to point out such corruption in the world?|
|Keith Hendricks:||I agree with Neruda; after love poems, political poems are the most emotional.|
|Poetry L & T:||In general, your poems and essay on critical theory "Symbolysis / Semeiosis 1: Critical theory" seem to me to show an innate love of words, for their rhythm and abstract qualities as well as for the power of their meaning. What, or who, first brought the appeal of words to you?|
|Keith Hendricks:||From 1992 to 1995 I was particularly faithful to a dream journal; this was, if not the blueprint itself, the sheaves on which I founded an oneiric language.|
|Poetry L & T:||Who is your favourite contemporary poet?|
|Keith Hendricks:||Kenneth Koch. I like Thank You, The Duplications, and his anthologies for children.|
|Poetry L & T:||Are there any poets or fiction writers you would recommend as essential reading for poets, and why?|
|Keith Hendricks:||Everyone knows who they are; I could even do it in initials: W.S., e.e.c, E.S., J.M., T.S.E., E.P., W.C.W., P.B.S., G.G.L.B., J.K.|
|Poetry L & T:||Do you feel that words can be potent weapons in poetry and discussion, or do you think that violence has taken over from words in the world today?|
|Keith Hendricks:|| Violence is more sophisticated, though the bureaucracy of armies are quite adept at
doublespeak. In the serbo-croatioan war, the soldier who fired on a schoolbus defended himself by
saying "there are no civilians." This cliche conceals a predatorial intuition for rhetoric... |
The poet's control of language is, indeed, a weapon, and I feel young poets would do the art a service through maximum internet interaction. Make poetry public again. Expose and shame the unconscious anxieties of nations.
|Poetry L & T:||If you were lecturing a class of English Language students about writing poetry, what would be the single most important thing you would point out to them?|
|Keith Hendricks:||The only 'single thing' would be a love of poetry, and I'd soon admonish the litterati who just
want to be petted, and do anything other than read good poetry. Poetasters continually reliving and
relishing their delusional glories has been a hindrance to many workshops I've attended.|
I'd also make a handout of several important essays written by poets, e.g. O'Hara's "Personism," Olson's "Projective Verse," Levertov's "Organic Form," et. al. We might burn "Tradition and the Individual Talent," since they'd be compelled to worship Eliot in every other modern English class.
I've always found it interesting that William Carlos Williams, of all poets the most liberal, once
I find this odd since my contemporaries are often taught to disdain technique via a dogmatic approach to Williams' better known ideas, e.g. his famous dictum "no ideas but in things."
I feel many American poets aren't skilled enough, for instance, to rhyme authentically, if effectively.
|Poetry L & T:||Do you think that the lyrics of pop songs might be partly to blame for some of the clichés and banality that creeps into amateur poetry sometimes, or that perhaps some newspapers or magazines are a poor influence for writers?|
|Keith Hendricks:|| Some modern lyrics can stand on their own as poetry, with or without music, e.g. some Suzanne
Vega, 10000 Maniacs, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, and John Lennon. Zappa and Bowie in
particular write authentic lines. I often admire the poetry in Cat Steven's album Numbers.
On the other hand, I do detect a tendency towards banality as the overall influence of alternative
The problem is probably that young artists write a really innovative lyric, like Edie Brickell's
first song, which had those weird lines "choke me in the shallow water / before I get too deep," and
then producers try to produce them, which turns them into a product, so they get 'made,' you see.
Why is the problem solely with 'popular' musical forms? Oscar Wilde wrote terrible poetry while the
Victorians were interpreting Chopin. Perhaps listening to shallow virtuosos interpret an original
genius turns one into a shallow virtuoso?|
I feel symbolism is overused and actually an autodidactic tool, i.e. the muse is actually trying to instruct the poet, and not give him/her a poem. In use, symbolism is a primitive plagiarism--you're pouring water in Milton's ink pots, and making use of other relics.
Yeats used symbolism, and Eliot plagiarism, since neither could say what they hadn't the words for. Perhaps because it is so overused, I despise the indirect approach in verse. There are other ways to utilize ambiguity.
I prefer the musical paradigm of 'variations.' It acknowledges the two-way street of influence without sacrificing mastery, e.g. Byron, the master, acknowledged the influence of Pope, whom he considered his better, and Keats, whom he did not. It also promotes practice, and dismisses worrisome ideas about 'ownership.' After I've completed a variation on a dead white male's poem, or a novice's poem, I don't worry about who wrote what--the material was never mine. It then prompts my own work.
|Poetry L & T:||Are there any poetry magazines or online poetry websites that you would recommend as a good influence for poets?|
|Keith Hendricks:||yefief, a high quality, trade paperback style journal from New Mexico, has the charming audacity to publish newbies next to excerpts from world literature. Its fun to see your words in the same font as Balzac.|
|Poetry L & T:||Finally Keith, What influence would you most like your poetry to have in the world?|
|Keith Hendricks:||I think it would be interesting to conduct an online experiment, just to determine,
empirically, what effect poetry does have in the world...|
I know that after reading Walt Whitman I feel like going for a hike. After reading Robert Bly, I want to write something polemical, however--he makes me irrascible. I suppose both poets strive for these distinct effects. I should like, in my poems, to make ecstacy contagious. A poem should be an entire world of energy and splendor. I want to write things that approach utility in their necessity, i.e. that produce multiple readings solely through pleasure, and not through didacticism. I disagree with Wilde somewhat that aesthetic value is inversely proportionate to utility, since after I've read something powerfully evocative, I need it, whether its Shakespeare's exorcism of Joan of Arc in Henry the Sixth Part 1 or Randall Jarrell's The Bat Poet.
|Poetry L & T:||Thank you for the interview.|
POEMS BY KEITH HENDRICKS
|You Are Facile Art, Audience|
© Kieth Gabriel Hendricks
Lies industrialize words.
Asherah's Baby Cedars Bury Skull Hill's Satanic Mammaries.
Sleep architects Mosaic passages in mythology's primordial recesses;
Blue Velvet Veils A Camera Confessing An Angel with a Wasp's Head
(Ebony bridled its human mannerisms:
This issue features an interview with poet Keith Hendricks, or gabriel1 as some may know him on the newsgoup alt.arts.poetry.comments. He has developed an unusual style of poetry, which he discusses in the interview. Some of his work is also included.
The theme for this month's poetry section is the bittersweet side of Spring. Many thanks to all contributors involved. I have enjoyed reading all the submissions.
Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page.
JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals. These poems were written for this issue, on the theme of Spring, with one about the seasons in general (Solar Sorcery).
To see more of Jan's poem and illustrations, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter.
© Jan Sand
There is agony in birth.
Knocking on my windowpanes,
© Jan Sand
Three witches and a magic man
The first witch stands so tall her hair
The russet sister dispenses briskly sweeping air,
The warmest witch of all, a gleeful butterball,
He treads cautiously on stage
published in various internet journals:
Café Society Guest Poets,
the June '98 Pigs 'n' Poets,
Michael Stephen's Avalon,
and the Nov~Dec '98
Wired Art From Wired Hearts.
Her column for
Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture,
is titled Rural Route Two.
Two of her essays are included in
Mother Voices, an anthology published by
Rose Communications in March 1998.
Paint the sky with petals
© Julie Damerell
|FISHING FOR GOLDFINCHES|
© Jerry Jenkins
A plastic cylinder with sunflower seed,
Small shapes, black and yellow, dart at speed,
Currents of a late spring thunderstorm
Wind and water alter every form:
SWALLOW FLIGHT © Jerry Jenkins
Mother, do you hear the swallows' flight
THE SPY © Jerry Jenkins
Sunrise startles the world, shattering dark.
Buds fatten in their sheaths like small grenades,
DAVE CARTON Dave Carton (aka Button Presser) is 37 years old. He recently took up writing poetry again after a 20 yr stint where he wrote only a very few poems. Since then he has been published in four poetry anthologies, as well as being published as Editors Choice in the quarterly Poetry Now magazine, and guesting on Poetry sites, and E-zines such as this one. Three weeks ago Sue his wife of 12 years died, and the poem "The Next Morning" was written the day after. If you want to read more of Dave's poetry, and visit the tribute he is constructing to Sue follow the link below: http://www.thepentagon.com/buttonpresser
THE NEXT MORNING|
© Dave Carton (buttonpresser)
Outside the birds fought
Inside the silent room
Good and bad times quarrelled
Outside in her garden
THE ROAD TO BARRICANE BEACH
Motorway faded into A roads
Every sign-post was a memory
We got soaked at Bull Point
Every sign-post was a memory,
My life was fading into A roads
Photograph of comet Hale Bopp © Tony Hoffman 1997
TONY HOFFMAN is a writer living in New York City, though he longs to move to a place that is close to wilderness and where the pace of life is more sane. His poetry has been published in The True Wheel, Night Vision, The National Poetry Magazine of the Lower East Side, and Science Digest. He participates (when he has the time) in the Internet newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. He also writes a monthly column of sky happenings for the newsletter of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. He sent me this amazing picture of the comet Hale Bopp, to go with his poem.
© Tony Hoffman
Released at last from city's care and glare
A dozen times or more, I prepped myself through the walk:
I rehearsed this walk in thought a dozen times
|Thanks, Sara --
Very good issue. Enjoyed the interview with Jerry (it's always nice to get a fuller picture of someone in this way); and I liked the eccentric poems.
Jerry, I enjoyed your website. It's well-designed, and I liked the range of material, and how you divided it into the different thematic sections.
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