July 15th, 2010 / 11:35 pm
Random

What is a Long Poem?


Seems like a strange genre. Is it a genre? How can the term “Long Poem” apply to both Eliot’s Wasteland and Zukofsky’s A, when the former is 434 lines and the latter is over 800 pages? How come everybody’s always yapping about Pound’s Cantos, when they should be yapping about Stanford’s The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You? Does Chelsey Minnis’s Poemland count as a Long Poem? What about Ben Lerner’s Angle of Yaw?

Edgar Allen Poe says: “I hold that a long poem does not exist. I maintain that the phrase, “a long poem,” is simply a flat contradiction in terms.”

Peter Middleton asks: “What significance does the adjective ‘long’ carry when we talk about the long poem? Is it literal or metaphorical, or a more or less implicit proper name?”

Rachel Blau DuPlessis says: “[W]e could say that the lyric/short poem haunts the long poem even as the long poem surrounds it, trumps it, smashes it, and envelops it. Even when it is made to disappear, or to become untenable, perhaps the ghost of lyric/shortness does variously haunt the long poem.”

82 Comments

  1. Pontius J. LaBar

      This also raises important questions about the “John Silver.”

  2. Lily

      Long poems were arguably the first poems, or at least the first recorded poems, no? The Odyssey and the like, or holy texts from various religions, or Beowolf etc etc, I could go on, but I’m bad with timelines.

      And: Maximus damn near killed me when I was 20. There’s a long poem for you, indeed.

  3. Craig

      The epic, yes, is arguably a long poem, but then, so too is the serial, perhaps regardless of the length of it’s parts, and no doubt other modes of poem. Length is not the sole determinate, as you’ve already established, but I’m at a perpetual loss as to how to qualify what other qualities are embedded in the long poem. If one were to say that a long poem must also seek to be all-encompassing, than there will be someone on hand to reply with a counter-example. I think it almost as, if not more, skillful the art of talking around what makes a long poem as actually writing one, perhaps.

  4. Eric Anderson

      It’s interesting that you bring up Learner’s Angle of Yaw. When does a group of poems written under a central theme become a long poem?

      Nathaniel Mackey, Rosmarie Waldrop, C.D. Wright, Noel Eli Gordon, etc… could (and have) collect a portion of their work and release it as a long poem.

  5. Greg

      So what equates a short poem? Or medium poem for that matter?

  6. dan

      what is the world’s longest haiku?

  7. Pontius J. LaBar

      This also raises important questions about the “John Silver.”

  8. lily hoang

      Long poems were arguably the first poems, or at least the first recorded poems, no? The Odyssey and the like, or holy texts from various religions, or Beowolf etc etc, I could go on, but I’m bad with timelines.

      And: Maximus damn near killed me when I was 20. There’s a long poem for you, indeed.

  9. Craig

      The epic, yes, is arguably a long poem, but then, so too is the serial, perhaps regardless of the length of it’s parts, and no doubt other modes of poem. Length is not the sole determinate, as you’ve already established, but I’m at a perpetual loss as to how to qualify what other qualities are embedded in the long poem. If one were to say that a long poem must also seek to be all-encompassing, than there will be someone on hand to reply with a counter-example. I think it almost as, if not more, skillful the art of talking around what makes a long poem as actually writing one, perhaps.

  10. Eric Anderson

      It’s interesting that you bring up Learner’s Angle of Yaw. When does a group of poems written under a central theme become a long poem?

      Nathaniel Mackey, Rosmarie Waldrop, C.D. Wright, Noel Eli Gordon, etc… could (and have) collect a portion of their work and release it as a long poem.

  11. Steven Pine

      Homer
      Virgil
      Dante
      Milton

      all of their ‘long’ poems have a powerful narrative. I doubt HTMLGiant readers can discuss this topic, narrative isn’t something most ‘readers’ here can actually (nor desire to) write.

  12. Craig

      As I consider the long poem, and also, the above comment by Steven, I am both drawn to Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day, which in some sense strikes me as the logical extremity of narrative, and, as I mentioned above, the serial, which is less necessarily narrative than any other form of the long poem. If we say the True Keeps Calm Biding It’s Story is a serial, which no doubt it is, rather than a collection, than could we be so presumptuous as to question the fundamental structural differences between Lev Rubinstein’s Catalogue of Comedic Novelties and David Markson’s Reader’s Block? What, ultimately, I am putting forward is that, as consumers of poetry, since that is what we are, at least in this forum, to what end are we willing to pursue this conversation. Or, more precisely, are we more likely to find an answer by starting at the center and working out, than we are by defining our fourth wall, to borrow the term, and working inward? Other than length, what qualifiable characteristics lead us to the genre of long poem, versus a mere collection of poems. I doubt theme alone would do it. I can no doubt say I am racking my brain, as I, just like anyone else, has an instinctual reaction that we’re not willing to part with, but deflecting and rambling (of which, I am more guilty than others) aside, what are we looking for?

      In addition to length, in addition to theme, I would add that the long poem, as a genre, seeks to be as all-encompassing as is possible, which admittedly, is quite subjective, but not necessarily intangible.

  13. Janey Smith

      I virtually cut my toe with an epic.

  14. Craig

      A short poem, I imagine, would be quite cross.

  15. dan

      what is the world’s longest haiku?

  16. Lily

      Yourself included, right? Because obviously, you’re a reader of HTML Giant.
      I don’t think it’s fair to lump all of HTML Giant into one non-narrative caring category, much less making the bold assertion that none of us even have the ability, if we so choose, to write narrative. I’m not sure what the value in this kind of statement is, other than to pick a fight, which obviously, you succeeded in doing.

  17. ZZZIPP

      BOGUS

  18. Steven Augustine

      As a writer who sometimes falls into the regrettable trap of writing verse (which is a little like playing Dixieland), I prefer writing “narrative” verse, though my taste as a reader is more inclusive. But the point to make about this tired old non-debate is that the terms of dispute shouldn’t be over category (that’s the Team Sports model of literary discourse and it’s for sweaty, un-fucked men wearing beer-hats, mostly) but *quality of execution*. The task is separating the non-Talent from the Talent-plus; if someone can’t get that straight, his/her “literary” opinion is a red herring (unless strife-qua-strife is the goal here).

      Pine, are you nuts, btw, invoking Dante and Milton while posting a link to that very tiny pile of affected, derivative Sophomoriana on your page? (Don’t take it personally: maybe someone will click your link as a result of my hateful put-down and fall in love with everything you’ve ever written!). Here’s a hug, man.

      And here’s a narrative verse (from a year’s worth of poems following a group of characters around the city I live in) about a very old female sexual predator who happens to be quite admirable, in her way:

      http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/the-endless-thread-4-0/#comment-2318

  19. ryan

      These are arbitrary, but I usually think of a long poem as 1000+ lines, moderate-length as 200-1000.

  20. Steven Pine

      Homer
      Virgil
      Dante
      Milton

      all of their ‘long’ poems have a powerful narrative. I doubt HTMLGiant readers can discuss this topic, narrative isn’t something most ‘readers’ here can actually (nor desire to) write.

  21. sasha fletcher

      i don’t know dude. i’m going to assume you missed the giant narrative/non-narrative debate between higgs and roxanne a few months back and are basing your assumptions here on something else entirely that occured i don’t know when. there’s probably plenty of examples to choose from.

      i also think that assuming that because someone isn’t interested in a thing. i think that assuming someone doesn’t care about something because they don’t understand it is false.

  22. sasha fletcher

      whoa! 200 lines is a lot of lines. for me, right now, 90-100 is a lot of lines. i think once you pass 1000 you are into the realm of the epic, which i feel battlefield definitely is.

      an epic, we can safely i think say, is a long narrative poem mostly concerned with the relating of heroic deeds and such.

      i also feel that the long poem and the book length poem, while certainly a book length poem is a long poem by definition, are a little different.

  23. Christopher Higgs

      Thinking about the long poem as the original genre is interesting….from it all other genres arose, maybe?

      And I am with you on the Olson: “one loves only form” – yes, yes, yes!

  24. Christopher Higgs

      Yeah, the epic….BUT…even within that category there seems to be a significant element of difference between, say, Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphosis. One has a central protagonist, the other doesn’t. One follows an Aristotelian unity principle, the other not so much. One seems to honor the gods, the other seems ambivalent towards them. And so on. This category seems so slippery at every turn!

  25. Craig

      As I consider the long poem, and also, the above comment by Steven, I am both drawn to Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day, which in some sense strikes me as the logical extremity of narrative, and, as I mentioned above, the serial, which is less necessarily narrative than any other form of the long poem. If we say the True Keeps Calm Biding It’s Story is a serial, which no doubt it is, rather than a collection, than could we be so presumptuous as to question the fundamental structural differences between Lev Rubinstein’s Catalogue of Comedic Novelties and David Markson’s Reader’s Block? What, ultimately, I am putting forward is that, as consumers of poetry, since that is what we are, at least in this forum, to what end are we willing to pursue this conversation. Or, more precisely, are we more likely to find an answer by starting at the center and working out, than we are by defining our fourth wall, to borrow the term, and working inward? Other than length, what qualifiable characteristics lead us to the genre of long poem, versus a mere collection of poems. I doubt theme alone would do it. I can no doubt say I am racking my brain, as I, just like anyone else, has an instinctual reaction that we’re not willing to part with, but deflecting and rambling (of which, I am more guilty than others) aside, what are we looking for?

      In addition to length, in addition to theme, I would add that the long poem, as a genre, seeks to be as all-encompassing as is possible, which admittedly, is quite subjective, but not necessarily intangible.

  26. Lily

      I think narrative is the original genre, storytelling, and the form narrative often took was the epic poem. Also, fairy tale. Also, morality. I’m out of my depths there, Chris, so maybe I’m wrong. This is all idle thinking, with very little grounding. Tell me if I’m wrong.

      Also, Maximus! Maximus! Maximus! I can’t put enough exclamation marks.

  27. Christopher Higgs

      Eric, exactly! Where is the threshold? Is it simply a matter of what the author calls it, or what critics call it? And for that matter, there are so many poetry books I read that seem to be some kind of “project” or revolve around some kind of conceptual paradigm that I can’t figure out how or why they wouldn’t be considered Long Poems.

  28. Janey Smith

      I virtually cut my toe with an epic.

  29. Craig

      A short poem, I imagine, would be quite cross.

  30. Christopher Higgs

      Craig, more good thoughts. Thanks!

      Yes, intangibility is the thing.
      I’m interested in investigating the idea of the Long Poem because the term exists, the idea exists, the concept exists, yet its definition is illusive.
      Your example of Mayer’s poem is a good one….narrative certainly can not be a necessary criteria for a Long Poem, as there are countless non-narrative examples.

  31. Christopher Higgs

      Hey Sasha!

      How would you characterize the distinction between a long poem and a book length poem?

  32. ryan

      I dunno. Song of Myself is 1000+, Does that count as an epic??

      Maybe I should revise it to long poem being like 800+, moderate-length 150+.

      200 lines. . . what does that take up, around 5-10 pages? The Auroras of Autumn by Stevens is 240 lines and takes up only 10 pages. . . for me that is “longish.”

  33. ryan

      Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, for example. If I recall correctly it’s 550ish lines. Does that count as a “long” poem? When I read it it does not feel like a “long” poem. For me it is the classic moderate-length-type poem. Which does mean that’s it’s definitely not short. . . heh.

  34. Christopher Higgs

      I really appreciate your thinking, Lily! And no, I don’t think you’re wrong. I’d be interested to learn about the intersection between the Long Poem and the fairy tale. Examples?

  35. David Belew

      Is Finnegan’s Wake a long poem or a narrative. Would its lack of poetic line breaks make it the latter? Would that make Gertrude Stein’s work not poetry?

  36. David Belew

      Its interesting that the Cantos, “A”, Paterson are considered epic long poems when they are really using lyric forms. The Cantos especially is just a long string of lyric.

      Formally epic is poetry dactylic hexameter, these people call their poetry epic because of its social connotations more than aesthetic indebtedness.
      Maybe I don’t know

  37. lily hoang

      Yourself included, right? Because obviously, you’re a reader of HTML Giant.
      I don’t think it’s fair to lump all of HTML Giant into one non-narrative caring category, much less making the bold assertion that none of us even have the ability, if we so choose, to write narrative. I’m not sure what the value in this kind of statement is, other than to pick a fight, which obviously, you succeeded in doing.

  38. sasha fletcher

      well, i feel, and a lot of this has to do with my own limitations as a writer, but a long poem to me is over 80 lines, and a book length poem needs to be over 40 pages, otherwise it’s a chapbook length poem.

  39. sasha fletcher

      i am pretty sure an epic is a matter of intent and not length. while it should be long, it also is basically a way of writing. this applies to fiction too, as i sort of view infinite jest as more of an epic than a novel. same with, below, most joyce. it’s closer to an epic than a novel for me. in terms of the scope and the overall sort of hero type thing. the epic grandeur of vision.

  40. sasha fletcher

      i am seriously astounded that a moderate length poem would be over 150 lines. this though again is just me it seems. i feel like a moderate length for a poem is like 50 lines. a short poem is less than a sonnet. a long poem is around 100 or over.
      but i mean, last night some artists giving slide talks said that their canvasses were big, like 30×40 inches, and i thought, shit, if it’s not bigger than you it’s not big. so i mean, it’s mostly just a matter of opinion i guess. but i am pretty sure we call agree that 2 and a half by 3 and a half is not more than a medium sized painting.

  41. ZZZIPP

      BOGUS

  42. Jhon Baker

      I’ve been referring to my poems as short and long and now reading through these comments I think I ought to start referring to them as short and longer poems. I always viewed the long poem as a relative term in accordance with the normal output of the poet. For example, Gerog Trakls poetry never ventures into the type of long that most people are talking about here but his psalm is considered long.
      I think to define the long poem as rigidly as having to contain a certain number of lines is a bit incorrect as the term long poem is merely descriptive and not definitive.
      Maybe long is when you see a poem and realize it is several pages long or longer and you say to your self – holy fuck do I have time right now?

  43. STaugustine

      As a writer who sometimes falls into the regrettable trap of writing verse (which is a little like playing Dixieland), I prefer writing “narrative” verse, though my taste as a reader is more inclusive. But the point to make about this tired old non-debate is that the terms of dispute shouldn’t be over category (that’s the Team Sports model of literary discourse and it’s for sweaty, un-fucked men wearing beer-hats, mostly) but *quality of execution*. The task is separating the non-Talent from the Talent-plus; if someone can’t get that straight, his/her “literary” opinion is a red herring (unless strife-qua-strife is the goal here).

      Pine, are you nuts, btw, invoking Dante and Milton while posting a link to that very tiny pile of affected, derivative Sophomoriana on your page? (Don’t take it personally: maybe someone will click your link as a result of my hateful put-down and fall in love with everything you’ve ever written!). Here’s a hug, man.

      And here’s a narrative verse (from a year’s worth of poems following a group of characters around the city I live in) about a very old female sexual predator who happens to be quite admirable, in her way:

      http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/the-endless-thread-4-0/#comment-2318

  44. ryan

      These are arbitrary, but I usually think of a long poem as 1000+ lines, moderate-length as 200-1000.

  45. sasha fletcher

      i don’t know dude. i’m going to assume you missed the giant narrative/non-narrative debate between higgs and roxanne a few months back and are basing your assumptions here on something else entirely that occured i don’t know when. there’s probably plenty of examples to choose from.

      i also think that assuming that because someone isn’t interested in a thing. i think that assuming someone doesn’t care about something because they don’t understand it is false.

  46. sasha fletcher

      whoa! 200 lines is a lot of lines. for me, right now, 90-100 is a lot of lines. i think once you pass 1000 you are into the realm of the epic, which i feel battlefield definitely is.

      an epic, we can safely i think say, is a long narrative poem mostly concerned with the relating of heroic deeds and such.

      i also feel that the long poem and the book length poem, while certainly a book length poem is a long poem by definition, are a little different.

  47. Christopher Higgs

      Thinking about the long poem as the original genre is interesting….from it all other genres arose, maybe?

      And I am with you on the Olson: “one loves only form” – yes, yes, yes!

  48. Christopher Higgs

      Yeah, the epic….BUT…even within that category there seems to be a significant element of difference between, say, Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphosis. One has a central protagonist, the other doesn’t. One follows an Aristotelian unity principle, the other not so much. One seems to honor the gods, the other seems ambivalent towards them. And so on. This category seems so slippery at every turn!

  49. lily hoang

      I think narrative is the original genre, storytelling, and the form narrative often took was the epic poem. Also, fairy tale. Also, morality. I’m out of my depths there, Chris, so maybe I’m wrong. This is all idle thinking, with very little grounding. Tell me if I’m wrong.

      Also, Maximus! Maximus! Maximus! I can’t put enough exclamation marks.

  50. Christopher Higgs

      Eric, exactly! Where is the threshold? Is it simply a matter of what the author calls it, or what critics call it? And for that matter, there are so many poetry books I read that seem to be some kind of “project” or revolve around some kind of conceptual paradigm that I can’t figure out how or why they wouldn’t be considered Long Poems.

  51. Christopher Higgs

      Craig, more good thoughts. Thanks!

      Yes, intangibility is the thing.
      I’m interested in investigating the idea of the Long Poem because the term exists, the idea exists, the concept exists, yet its definition is illusive.
      Your example of Mayer’s poem is a good one….narrative certainly can not be a necessary criteria for a Long Poem, as there are countless non-narrative examples.

  52. Christopher Higgs

      Hey Sasha!

      How would you characterize the distinction between a long poem and a book length poem?

  53. ryan

      I dunno. Song of Myself is 1000+, Does that count as an epic??

      Maybe I should revise it to long poem being like 800+, moderate-length 150+.

      200 lines. . . what does that take up, around 5-10 pages? The Auroras of Autumn by Stevens is 240 lines and takes up only 10 pages. . . for me that is “longish.”

  54. ryan

      Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, for example. If I recall correctly it’s 550ish lines. Does that count as a “long” poem? When I read it it does not feel like a “long” poem. For me it is the classic moderate-length-type poem. Which does mean that’s it’s definitely not short. . . heh.

  55. Christopher Higgs

      I really appreciate your thinking, Lily! And no, I don’t think you’re wrong. I’d be interested to learn about the intersection between the Long Poem and the fairy tale. Examples?

  56. David Belew

      Is Finnegan’s Wake a long poem or a narrative. Would its lack of poetic line breaks make it the latter? Would that make Gertrude Stein’s work not poetry?

  57. David Belew

      Its interesting that the Cantos, “A”, Paterson are considered epic long poems when they are really using lyric forms. The Cantos especially is just a long string of lyric.

      Formally epic is poetry dactylic hexameter, these people call their poetry epic because of its social connotations more than aesthetic indebtedness.
      Maybe I don’t know

  58. Henry Gould

      The epic poem, at least in the old days, had a lot of very specific generic characteristics. Milton & Virgil very consciously tried to fulfill ALL of them, with Homer’s epics as the original model. Dante was maybe the first major poet to bend the epic toward something less clearly marked… a little closer to our “long poem”, as well as to the medieval “dream vision”. (Critic Northrop Frye is helpful on all this.)

      As I see it, the “long poem” has (at least) 3 different meanings – 1) just what it says – & I agree with previous commenters that this is VERY relative (ie. Trakl wrote a pretty short “long poem”); 2) the long (narrative) poem – popular in many different periods & places (see Tennyson, Longfellow, Browning, etc….) 3) the modernist “long poem” – which began to develop distinct characteristics in the 20th cent. Whitman, Eliot, Pound, Zukofsky, Hart Crane, H.D., Olson, WCW, David Jones…. & others all contributed to this newish form…

  59. Henry Gould

      The epic poem, at least in the old days, had a lot of very specific generic characteristics. Milton & Virgil very consciously tried to fulfill ALL of them, with Homer’s epics as the original model. Dante was maybe the first major poet to bend the epic toward something less clearly marked… a little closer to our “long poem”, as well as to the medieval “dream vision”. (Critic Northrop Frye is helpful on all this.)

      As I see it, the “long poem” has (at least) 3 different meanings – 1) just what it says – & I agree with previous commenters that this is VERY relative (ie. Trakl wrote a pretty short “long poem”); 2) the long (narrative) poem – popular in many different periods & places (see Tennyson, Longfellow, Browning, etc….) 3) the modernist “long poem” – which began to develop distinct characteristics in the 20th cent. Whitman, Eliot, Pound, Zukofsky, Hart Crane, H.D., Olson, WCW, David Jones…. & others all contributed to this newish form…

  60. sasha fletcher

      well, i feel, and a lot of this has to do with my own limitations as a writer, but a long poem to me is over 80 lines, and a book length poem needs to be over 40 pages, otherwise it’s a chapbook length poem.

  61. sasha fletcher

      i am pretty sure an epic is a matter of intent and not length. while it should be long, it also is basically a way of writing. this applies to fiction too, as i sort of view infinite jest as more of an epic than a novel. same with, below, most joyce. it’s closer to an epic than a novel for me. in terms of the scope and the overall sort of hero type thing. the epic grandeur of vision.

  62. sasha fletcher

      i am seriously astounded that a moderate length poem would be over 150 lines. this though again is just me it seems. i feel like a moderate length for a poem is like 50 lines. a short poem is less than a sonnet. a long poem is around 100 or over.
      but i mean, last night some artists giving slide talks said that their canvasses were big, like 30×40 inches, and i thought, shit, if it’s not bigger than you it’s not big. so i mean, it’s mostly just a matter of opinion i guess. but i am pretty sure we call agree that 2 and a half by 3 and a half is not more than a medium sized painting.

  63. Jhon Baker

      I’ve been referring to my poems as short and long and now reading through these comments I think I ought to start referring to them as short and longer poems. I always viewed the long poem as a relative term in accordance with the normal output of the poet. For example, Gerog Trakls poetry never ventures into the type of long that most people are talking about here but his psalm is considered long.
      I think to define the long poem as rigidly as having to contain a certain number of lines is a bit incorrect as the term long poem is merely descriptive and not definitive.
      Maybe long is when you see a poem and realize it is several pages long or longer and you say to your self – holy fuck do I have time right now?

  64. Eric Anderson

      I agree. I wonder at what point does the project becomes pressured into being a product. It seems that the expectation of the themed short story collection has migrated to poetry publishing. While themed collections aren’t new, they are now the norm, probably because they are easier to market.

  65. Eric Anderson

      I agree. I wonder at what point does the project becomes pressured into being a product. It seems that the expectation of the themed short story collection has migrated to poetry publishing. While themed collections aren’t new, they are now the norm, probably because they are easier to market.

  66. Eric Anderson

      On second thought, I take back the marketing comment since poetry doesn’t really have a large market. Maybe it is more a pressure to create a “voice” for the collection that will cut through the cacophony of other books.

  67. Eric Anderson

      On second thought, I take back the marketing comment since poetry doesn’t really have a large market. Maybe it is more a pressure to create a “voice” for the collection that will cut through the cacophony of other books.

  68. Henry Gould

      The epic poem, at least in the old days, had a lot of very specific generic characteristics. Milton & Virgil very consciously tried to fulfill ALL of them, with Homer’s epics as the original model. Dante was maybe the first major poet to bend the epic toward something less clearly marked… a little closer to our “long poem”, as well as to the medieval “dream vision”. (Critic Northrop Frye is helpful on all this.)

      As I see it, the “long poem” has (at least) 3 different meanings – 1) just what it says – & I agree with previous commenters that this is VERY relative (ie. Trakl wrote a pretty short “long poem”); 2) the long (narrative) poem – popular in many different periods & places (see Tennyson, Longfellow, Browning, etc….) 3) the modernist “long poem” – which began to develop distinct characteristics in the 20th cent. Whitman, Eliot, Pound, Zukofsky, Hart Crane, H.D., Olson, WCW, David Jones…. & others all contributed to this newish form…

  69. Eric Anderson

      I agree. I wonder at what point does the project becomes pressured into being a product. It seems that the expectation of the themed short story collection has migrated to poetry publishing. While themed collections aren’t new, they are now the norm, probably because they are easier to market.

  70. Eric Anderson

      On second thought, I take back the marketing comment since poetry doesn’t really have a large market. Maybe it is more a pressure to create a “voice” for the collection that will cut through the cacophony of other books.

  71. Garett Strickland

      I’ve been big into the notion of the Long Poem, or Novel-Length Poem, for a while now. Certain works, too, that claim to be novels but are essentially long poems, as well.

      MALDOROR by Lautreamont
      HAUNTED HOUSE by Pierre Reverdy
      THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT by Kenneth Patchen
      GUNSLINGER by Edward Dorn
      and ARK by Ronald Johnson, which I drool to get my hands on

      also, any of the Saint-John Perse stuff gives me a great big word-music boner.

      The categorization is, as always, somewhat arbitrary, but I lean into the idea of such things as essentially visionary, given to a kind of astral fluidity & phantasmagoric shift. This can and often does lend itself to an ‘initiatory’ state in the reader — guided transformation, tunneling perceptual reorganizations through your muthafuckin’ self-notion(s).

  72. Garett Strickland

      I’ve been big into the notion of the Long Poem, or Novel-Length Poem, for a while now. Certain works, too, that claim to be novels but are essentially long poems, as well.

      MALDOROR by Lautreamont
      HAUNTED HOUSE by Pierre Reverdy
      THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT by Kenneth Patchen
      GUNSLINGER by Edward Dorn
      and ARK by Ronald Johnson, which I drool to get my hands on

      also, any of the Saint-John Perse stuff gives me a great big word-music boner.

      The categorization is, as always, somewhat arbitrary, but I lean into the idea of such things as essentially visionary, given to a kind of astral fluidity & phantasmagoric shift. This can and often does lend itself to an ‘initiatory’ state in the reader — guided transformation, tunneling perceptual reorganizations through your muthafuckin’ self-notion(s).

  73. Garett Strickland

      I’ve been big into the notion of the Long Poem, or Novel-Length Poem, for a while now. Certain works, too, that claim to be novels but are essentially long poems, as well.

      MALDOROR by Lautreamont
      HAUNTED HOUSE by Pierre Reverdy
      THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT by Kenneth Patchen
      GUNSLINGER by Edward Dorn
      and ARK by Ronald Johnson, which I drool to get my hands on

      also, any of the Saint-John Perse stuff gives me a great big word-music boner.

      The categorization is, as always, somewhat arbitrary, but I lean into the idea of such things as essentially visionary, given to a kind of astral fluidity & phantasmagoric shift. This can and often does lend itself to an ‘initiatory’ state in the reader — guided transformation, tunneling perceptual reorganizations through your muthafuckin’ self-notion(s).

  74. Colin Herd

      I think this whole discussion is very interesting, and especially the Blau du Plessis, since she’s a poet who is engaged in writing a long poem as opposed to a a book-length poem. i.e. where long poem as a category is longer than a book length poem, spread over multiple volumes and many years, parts released before other parts are completed.. But her writing also divides itself into sections that sometimes feel like poems within the poem, which is only natural given that short poems also do the same thing sometimes just on a smaller scale. does this quotation come frm her talk at the ‘Long Poems Conference’ at Sussex last year? Maybe not, but she gave a paper there about a lot of these issues:

      “Writing a long poem has an interwoven private and public temporality. Because of the number of variables set in play, one has (as a producer) deeply to desire that kind of activity in time. It’s a kind of erotic charge as well as an ambition—both expressing excess and desire—a longing and a sense of a vow. That is, long poems are a passionate activity, working inside time, constituted to engage various personal and historical necessities via poesis. It isn’t so much making a big Thing, but entering into a continuing situation of responsiveness, a compact with that desire.”

      I like how she puts that there, I like how it becomes a kind of anti-phallic understanding of the long poem, especially in the sense of responsiveness, where long poem comes to mean sustained engagement over time rather than anything so much to do with measuring lines as if they were inches.

      she said something else too, that:

      long poems ‘concern things that are too large in relation to things that are too small… By too large I mean the universe, the earth, our history and politics, our sense of the past and our more febrile sense of the future’.

  75. Colin Herd

      I think this whole discussion is very interesting, and especially the Blau du Plessis, since she’s a poet who is engaged in writing a long poem as opposed to a a book-length poem. i.e. where long poem as a category is longer than a book length poem, spread over multiple volumes and many years, parts released before other parts are completed.. But her writing also divides itself into sections that sometimes feel like poems within the poem, which is only natural given that short poems also do the same thing sometimes just on a smaller scale. does this quotation come frm her talk at the ‘Long Poems Conference’ at Sussex last year? Maybe not, but she gave a paper there about a lot of these issues:

      “Writing a long poem has an interwoven private and public temporality. Because of the number of variables set in play, one has (as a producer) deeply to desire that kind of activity in time. It’s a kind of erotic charge as well as an ambition—both expressing excess and desire—a longing and a sense of a vow. That is, long poems are a passionate activity, working inside time, constituted to engage various personal and historical necessities via poesis. It isn’t so much making a big Thing, but entering into a continuing situation of responsiveness, a compact with that desire.”

      I like how she puts that there, I like how it becomes a kind of anti-phallic understanding of the long poem, especially in the sense of responsiveness, where long poem comes to mean sustained engagement over time rather than anything so much to do with measuring lines as if they were inches.

      she said something else too, that:

      long poems ‘concern things that are too large in relation to things that are too small… By too large I mean the universe, the earth, our history and politics, our sense of the past and our more febrile sense of the future’.

  76. Colin Herd

      Just realized that you linked to the whole DuPlessis paper… so it is the same one.

  77. Colin Herd

      Just realized that you linked to the whole DuPlessis paper… so it is the same one.

  78. Colin Herd

      I think this whole discussion is very interesting, and especially the Blau du Plessis, since she’s a poet who is engaged in writing a long poem as opposed to a a book-length poem. i.e. where long poem as a category is longer than a book length poem, spread over multiple volumes and many years, parts released before other parts are completed.. But her writing also divides itself into sections that sometimes feel like poems within the poem, which is only natural given that short poems also do the same thing sometimes just on a smaller scale. does this quotation come frm her talk at the ‘Long Poems Conference’ at Sussex last year? Maybe not, but she gave a paper there about a lot of these issues:

      “Writing a long poem has an interwoven private and public temporality. Because of the number of variables set in play, one has (as a producer) deeply to desire that kind of activity in time. It’s a kind of erotic charge as well as an ambition—both expressing excess and desire—a longing and a sense of a vow. That is, long poems are a passionate activity, working inside time, constituted to engage various personal and historical necessities via poesis. It isn’t so much making a big Thing, but entering into a continuing situation of responsiveness, a compact with that desire.”

      I like how she puts that there, I like how it becomes a kind of anti-phallic understanding of the long poem, especially in the sense of responsiveness, where long poem comes to mean sustained engagement over time rather than anything so much to do with measuring lines as if they were inches.

      she said something else too, that:

      long poems ‘concern things that are too large in relation to things that are too small… By too large I mean the universe, the earth, our history and politics, our sense of the past and our more febrile sense of the future’.

  79. Colin Herd

      Just realized that you linked to the whole DuPlessis paper… so it is the same one.

  80. Henry Gould
  81. Henry Gould
  82. Henry Gould