AG: Er.. (Well), unbeknownst to everybody - separately - every time anyone’s been giving me poems, I’ve been doing this to them [editing them], to about half, or a third, of the class, at least...
Student: Allen, how would you have closed the spacing (to just tie it in to what you were doing before)? How would you take a long line like that? What would you do with the spacing?
Student: So you would have just left it?
AG: Yeah, I left the line there. No, I would just condense the line. I would collapse the line and condense it down to its elements, or to the elements that I thought were necessary, and I would judge that by what is pictorially visible and necessary for the sense. At some point or other in the poem I figured (that) she ["Anita", the poet] wasn’t really missing her boyfriend, anyway. She was making a list of things she was familiar with, and really dug and missed, and was nostalgic about. I think that was one of the...
AG: Well, ok, no.
Student: If you went so far as to cross out the “you”, the “you” and “like”, all that – I’m not necessarily agreeing with all this – reading (only) what you think are the valid elements...
AG: The active elements
Student: …okay, why didn’t you cross out the “I”?
Student: “I”. There’s still a whole “I”.
AG: Okay, the second consideration (now the lesson continues for a second), the second consideration is how you would say it, if you were talking more or less normally, as speech. Now you might say “Miss you, saliva”, or you might say, “I miss you saliva”. So it depends how you want it as spoken speech…I propose that a basic guiding consideration for arranging the lines is that you can speak them with some kind of common sense. Even if you’re doing Surrealist verse, you’ve still got to bear in mind what it all sounds like when spoken, and because the imagery is so fantastical, it’s really necessary to keep…One way of writing is keeping within the bounds of ordinary tongue mouthing - “Miss you” would also be vernacular.
Student: Now, I.. the reason I wouldn’t put “Miss you” instead of “I miss you” is because, I feel it would be (personal intrusion) crossing out all that, who (are) you handing it over to? (who is the poem addressed to?)
AG: Actually, it’s complicated. The poem’s so long. We did get “Brett”, her boyfriend, in (the title) – “Letter to Brett in Taos”
Student: I think those.. maybe those human links, you know.. the “miss you like”” is.. (in this case) really valid - Okay, but maybe that’s a separate point.
AG: I’ll tell you, when the whole poem goes on, you get sick of the “miss you like”. It’s sort of unnecessary after the poem goes on. I’ll read the whole thing in the original again if you want (to prove it).
AG: No? But it does get.. One of the problems was “I miss you like, I miss you like”, and, after a while, it sounded... drippy.
Ted Berrigan: But “Anita” (the poet) wouldn’t give imprecise (memory)?
AG: If you had an accurate mind, you wouldn’t.
Ted Berrigan: (And I think one aspires to) a higher degree of accuracy as to what comes after “like”, in relation to the quality of the feeling of “missing” (a natural rigor that) were contained (more immediately) in the “list poem”. [Ted is perhaps thinking, most particularly of his friend, Joe Brainard’s – I Remember] Is that clear?