Case Study for Blog, Then

David Bartone
November 24, 2009
Comments 4

What does the KR Blog mean to me–I think I know; I think I can get there. I don’t spend much time with prose, actually. Kinda feel closer in thought to verse. In heart. Call it the fragmented existence or whatever. I’d liken poetic comprehension to a soap bubble: growing until it pops or shrinks, always sliding down porcelain, everlasting seeming, everlasting probably, growing now always. I feel I understand that. I often feel I understand a line better than a sentence. All syntax, in good working order or in frantic torque, confuses me. And so you see I had quite a bit of nervousness about blogging here. Not only is it the Kenyon Fucking Review, a place of such fine and enabling architecture throughout its history, also dedicated to re-burgeoning of freshness and vitality; not only am I actually (or obviously) timid, well, not timid, but of nervousness, if a caffeinated kind; not only all the rest; but, I often feel like when I’m writing prose, even in a flirty email, I’m betraying what truly compels me through a given day–a crave to find more a life of livelihood among daring language; to me, that, I’m most satisfied by, by verse. Well, what I like about what I get to do here most is that often I feel like the games lit-bloggers get to play–however indulgent, though they are, and sometimes rubbish or exclusive, sorry about that–are games that iterate something I find strengthening to voice. Nothing puts the strengthening of voice at sacrifice. Ever. Right?–as long as you’re always writing. But poetry, what makes something a poem? What makes it uniquely poetry? Oh boy, hang with me, I’m not going to try to crack the case or anything. Promise. I’m just looking for a way to understand what I do, understand who you are, and think of ways to love everything I want in all relationships to everyone, is all. I’m thinking a little about Charles Bernstein’s essay, Artifice of Absorption: “The reason it is difficult to talk about the meaning of a poem–in a way that doesn’t seem frustratingly superficial or partial–is that by designating a text a poem, one suggests that its meanings are to be located in some “complex” beyond an accumulation of devices & subject matters. A poetic reading can be given to any piece of writing; a “poem” may be understood as writing specifically designed to absorb, or inflate with, proactive–rather than reactive–styles of reading.” I don’t want to go much further with the topic than this: with the prose I get to create for the KR Blog, I feel like I am creating something that contributes a movement within me more so toward the next, to another ever-vibrating field of self. I’m not so sure that the texts inflate at all, but I’m prepared to let them say what I want: love: I want you to be love: to sing and receive: I want you as both song and mailbox, always, of course. When writing in verse, I get to consider everything I want from it that must solely be fitting for it. The other and most obvious distinction to make between the writing I do “for me” and this here is the notion of audience. But I believe that my audience for everything I write is actually kinda the same, or at least reconciled within me: it’s the most intimate you I can know, that’s what I want. C.P. Cavafy knows a certain audience–the “we the initiated”–those that burst in, trusting a welcome, or having one otherwise; the proactive, Bernstein might say; the most intimate, I would say; this, Cavafy says:


Lines written by young Temethos, madly in love.
The title: “Emonidis”–the favorite
of Antiochos Epiphanis; a very handsome young man
from Samosata. But if the lines come out
ardent, full of feeling, it is because Emonidis
(belonging to that other, much older time:
the 137th year of the Greek kingdom,
maybe a bit earlier) is in the poem
merely as a name–a suitable one nevertheless.
The poem gives voice to the love Temethos feels,
a beautiful kind of love, worthy of him. We the initiated–
his intimate friends–we the initiated
know about whom those lines were written.
The unsuspecting Antiochians read simply “Emonidis.”

4 thoughts on “Case Study for Blog, Then

  1. Two of my all time favorite C.P. Cafavy poems are WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS (& also see Neo Rauch’s painting called WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS) and THE CITY. (translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, Princeton U. Press, 1975)

  2. Oh yes, yes! and the best part, as I understand it, of reconciliation, any, that is, is that before long something lags, or fractures, and then there’s this game of catch-up, I might call it, and sometimes one way to understand it is as bicycle drafting, or, like my girlfriend told me yesterday on a woods walk, as she noticed that we kept passing each other on the single file path, about how in soccer practice there is this move that you run in a single line and whoever’s in last has to try to chase to the front, ever-perpetuating, sometimes I wonder if it’s ever like that, this writing in different forms always, like: how poetic should my emails be if to non-poets, and how didactic should my diaries be, and what are you doing and why when you’re running an errand, man i love to try to figure out how the writing is behaving. Jay, I like that your recent poems and blog-voice can seem alike. I can’t wait to read your recent poems!

  3. I imagined when I took this gig I’d be pulled in two directions: toward the sober/explanatory in my column (James Merrill called his book of prose-on-poetry “Recitative”– the sing-speak between arias in an opera), and toward the gisty/weird/radiant in my poetry; I imagined that the sobreity of one would permit more wildness from the other.

    Instead, I’ve found my recent poems and blog entries have seemed alike: cheerful, appetitive, talky, compressed, digressive. Come to find out the shape of my thought that excites me most isn’t that different, in one form or another.

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