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A Postscript

The preoccupations here evident were, in fact, more decisive than I could then have realized. I had trusted so much to thinking , apparently, and had gained for myself such an adamant sense of what a poem could be for me, that here I must have been signaling to myself both a warning and the hope of an alternative.

Not too long after I began to try deliberately to break out of the habits described. I wrote in different states of so-called consciousness, e.g., when high, and at those times would write in pen or pencil, contrary to habit, and I would also try to avoid any immediate decision as to whether or not the effects of such writing were "good." Some of the poems so written are to be found in Words , among them "A Piece," "The Box," "They (2)," and "The Farm." These were, however, still written on the customary 8 × 11 sheets and in the security of my usual home. But nonetheless they began to gain for me the possibility of scribbling , of writing for the immediacy of the pleasure and without having to pay attention to some final code of significance.

When Words was published, I was interested to see that one of the poems most irritating to reviewers was "A Piece"—and yet I knew that for me it was central to all possibilities of statement. One might think of "counting sheep"—and I am here reminded of Williams' poem, which Pound chooses to include in Confucius to Cummings , "The High Bridge Above the River Tagus at Toledo":

In old age they walk in the old man's dreams
   and will still walk in his dreams, peacefully
   continuing in his verse forever.

To count, or give account, tell or tally, continuingly seems to me the occasion. But again I had found myself limited by the nature of the adding machine I had unwittingly forced upon myself.

Slowly, then, I came to write without the mechanic of the typewriter. I also began to use notebooks, first very small ones indeed, and then larger—and I found many senses of possibility in writing


began consequently to open. For one, such notebooks accumulated the writing, and they made no decisions about it—it was all there, in whatever state it occurred, everything from addresses to moralistic self-advising, to such notes as I now find in the smallest and first of them:

This size page forces the
damn speciously gnomic
sans need for same—

There was no hustle to argue the virtue of any possibility instantly, nor to do more than write, which same "freely" to do, as Remy de Gourmont in Pound's quotation of him insists, "is the sole pleasure of a writer." How long it took me to realize that in my own life.

It would be impossible to thank Allen Ginsberg enough for what he was somehow able to reassure me of—or to thank those other friends whose way of writing was of like order: Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, and the many others, who were wise, like they say, long before myself. It's lovely to do something with your bare hands and mind, in the instant it is possible, and finally I know it.


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