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Mark DuCharme


Notes: "A Statement of Sorts"

I feel resistant to the project of self-definition, insofar as it implicates a (to me, fake) singularity--just in that I don't like being pinned down to one modus operandi, one persona, one set of rules. Also, if I can choose (which I'm not always so sure about), I prefer the dialogic, or even better the polylogic, as modes/ models for poetic practice. I would reject the notion of poetics as an internally consistent system, which, in my case, has never been even a desirable goal. At the same time, I would propose that my poetics is precisely that which values the liberatory, or any persistent openness to possibilities, at the expense of tedious effort which is both born of, & often leads to, even more tedious consistency. "I" as a set of competing possibilities. Whitman's sense of containing multitudes--although I'll admit there is not much else I get directly from him--seems at least a useful (re-)starting point.

I find that first- and second-person subject positions often refract through my work. This is sometimes mildly embarassing--even as I'm aware that an utter lack of "actors" can lead to a text which is (at least grammatically) static. That is, while I see expressive or autobiographical approaches as problematic &/or uninteresting, I'm drawn to the energy which the "I" and the "you" can bring to the poem--& my work is, in part, an exploration of ways of using these figures outside of such arbitrary frameworks. The "I" is just as likely to be the "you" in the next line of an exchange. The "I," in this sense, is no more stable than the point-of-view of the speaker, author or dictator. If I try in my work to foreground the provisionality of subject positions, this is done in an explicitly "lyrical," rather than narrative, context. (Although I admire artists, such as Acker, Harryman or Godard, who use narrative almost as a means of disrupting it, this is not a direction I've sought out in my own work, perhaps because of my preference for the "immediacy" of the lyrical, which might be thought of as a persistence toward starting again). I've written at greater length on the lyric, in a talk titled "Radical Lyricality" which was published in the journal 26 thanks to the good graces of Avery Burns. The early poems in The Betweens, coincidentally, were written at about the same time as I was preparing that talk.

The Betweens is a serial poem, and seriality is an instrument I've returned to now and again in my writing. While the singular poem often has to be stunning, the series, perhaps due to the interlocking nature of its parts, is capable of incorporating the incidental and the fragmentary, thus giving it a potentially broader sway while retaining what seems to me the principally interesting feature of the lyric: that one is constantly (because writing new poems) starting over. In fact, the serial poem is a monster which occupies an intermediate position between the flighty lyric & the weightier, more "definitive" (and constraining) longer poem. Lyric and serial poems are like participants in guerilla, rather than conventional, warfare. They are flexible, transitive, dialogic--perhaps even interactive--but always mobile; and these are features which can lend greater critical distance, while at the same time involvement in, whatever materials are at hand.

Because all art of any value is an exchange not just with the reader, but with--what? the "greater" society upon which one (often vainly) hopes to have any impact--the poet really does not have the last word upon the meaning or scope of their project. Therefore, any "statement" such as this one is subject to revision, not so much by the author as by the work's historical reception & cultural resonance(s).

The blanks at the edge of the page are there to be filled in.


from The Betweens



To arrange chronologically;
To foster
Even at this late hour, shards
In bundles, slumping

To sputter, cruelly representative
Driven toward, in various incidents
What used to be viable torched
Much of which couldn’t not be heard

Or written in, brand-
New: fledged, irritant, primping
To be welded at the analogy

In full view of the authorities;
To become one with the authorities
(Evident swaying at the alarm)

Sequels: to put in sequences;
Manically erased.





The work is the idea of the work is always
The work or having to carry it
Off though in the meantime folded
Into the work the work is doing it
To the work as in little pieces
Of the work fucking the work over
& Over stray connects over timely
Work & stray dots per inch attuned
To remove through folded pieces doing it
Shattered as if to carry the fucking
        Or the idea of the fucking
The fucking engorges the work is shattered
        Shattered pieces timely













Mark DuCharme is author of Cosmopolitan Tremble (Pavement Saw Press, 2002). His poetry and essays are recent or forthcoming in BirdDog, Conundrum, Fulcrum, LA Review, Morkville, Muse Apprentice Guild, New Review of Literature, Poems for Peace, Pom2, VeRT, 26: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics, and 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry.



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