Ted Berrigan: I’m in favor of the addition of as many words as possible in a poem…
AG: Oh, God, I’m in favor of taking out as many words as possible!
TB: It’s just to see if you can get away with it. It has to be good.
AG: Oh well, if you’re conscious of seeing what you can get away with, that’s another matter, but here, I think, it was the first attempt at writing a “list poem”, (in which the “you” and “like” was unnecessary. I thought so, structurally. We can argue about it if you want). But, anyway, what I want is for everybody to see what happens when you begin condensing and getting into a little Surrealist electric, instead of sticking with slower, more pedestrian syntax.
TB: What happens is you get (perhaps, maybe, further away from the original)
AG: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I think, in this case, (though) we’ve actually got, probably much (most) of the original intention of the poem. It’s a subtle matter. I don’t know if we want to get into it.
AG: (So) what did we decide?
Student: I think we.. well, what I felt, personally, is that we made it (kept it) your (the original) poem
AG: Yeah, definitely.
AG: But, (see,) that’s the only thing I can teach. That was my excuse. That’s the only thing I could teach was …how to write poetry. And so I was actually aborting the poem, but actually (at the same time) giving a clear illustration of my thinking process.
TB: Al, could you read those first three lines again, actually?
AG: The original?
AG: “I miss you like sliced bread, like peach kafir, like a Florentine at a French bakery”
TB: Okay, hold it there,
AG: “I miss…” okay
TB: If I were teaching that, I would have suggested to cut everything else.
AG: Like what?
TB: After that, before – everything!
AG: That’s a possibility.
TB: Those lines are really beautiful, I think, and it’s also..
AG: Yeah but (then) the next line is, “I miss you like saliva, like dirt under my nails, like gums bleeding, like a fly on…”
TB: Ah, I don’t want to hear about all of those horrible things!
AG: Okay, So I’m saying it (in a) way (that) you can hear about it - “I miss you like saliva, like dirt under my nails, like gums bleeding, like a fly on meditation knee..”
TB: That part’s very nice. That part’s very nice – “Fly on meditation knee”. That’s a kind of transitional cut that can be done that’s very terrific.
Student: “I miss saliva”,”I miss you like saliva”..
TB: Man, I’m telling you “I miss you like saliva” changed to “I miss saliva” really seems like..(well, what’s the point?)
AG: Yo! - “I miss saliva dirt under my fingernails”. There isn’t actually very much difference there, if you think on it - “I miss you like saliva, like dirt under my nails, my gums bleeding”
Student: No, that’s not the idea.
Student: I would miss saliva if I didn’t have it.
AG: Well I’m saying “I miss you saliva”. I miss you like saliva. So “I miss you saliva”. What’s different?
TB (to “Anita”): But you’re not saying “I miss you saliva” – that’s the whole point.
Student: You’ve been reading “I miss saliva” and leaving out the “like”, but up there (on the blackboard) you wrote “I miss you saliva”, so what is it?
AG: That’s right.
Students; “I miss you saliva”
AG: What did I say?
Students: “I miss you saliva”
AG: Actually, I cut out “you” too – “I miss saliva dirt under my fingernails..”
TB: That’s too good!
AG: “..under my nails”.
TB: That’s being too good.
AG: “I miss saliva dirt under my nails”
TB: No, that’s being too good.
AG: I think it’s an interesting line.
TB: Yeah, exactly.