A Faithful Account of Where I Live: The Letters of Cid Corman and William Bronk

1 Jun[e] 61

Dear Cid

I am content with your selection and your evaluation [of poems sent in May]. When I offered you all or any or none and said I was prepared to accept that I meant it. Besides I acknowledge your good will and disinterested concern. I trust you though I would more often than not be in disagreement - or perhaps more accurately out of phase - with you. On a different wave length so that we dont [sic] even reach each other to disagree. Of course, I am a little disappointed that I did not move you more. Whatever one's approach to poetry, one intends openly or secretly to move the reader. And your selection surprises me. No, it would be more accurate to say merely that it interest me (narcissistically) because I don't know what is surprising about it, don't know what I should have expected you to choose rather than these or why these rather than others.

It is possible that I try too hard, or rather that it is wrong to give the reader the impression of great and unsuccessful effort. It has to seem easy or better accomplished. And "strident" yes. It may seem that, though, my own stridor doesnt offend me; only other people's stridor. If the poetry is "hurt by that search for, insistence upon, what you call a world" in your eyes (or ears) - It isn't in mine - maybe I really consider the search-if that's what it is-as more important than the poetry. Now we come to this music business. It is unnecessary to say that I am not against music which I quite obviously revere. But poetry is poetry not music. You evidently are still on the track you were on in Paris when you started talking about - did you call it oral poetry? I never was able to follow you there. What I am to do is to make a statement which has form which is composed of the contents of the statement. I am after "the weight, the texture, the strength," not of words but of statements, something initially more static than you are, the shape of the rocks as they lie against each other not the sound they make as they tumble over together. What was breath in your metaphor becomes rocks in mine to your great disadvantage but this is my letter and I'll make the metaphors.

You may, of course, keep the others as long as you like. You may even on longer acquaintance come to love them. Or again, you may equally as well come to wonder, as I often do, how anyone could give them a moment's attention. The really gaming aspect of their seeming worthless is that it is not most likely to occur to me when I am most despairing - and so attributable to the general despair-but when I am hardly despairing at all - and so likely to be an accurate discernment.

If you plan to use Tenchtitlan, do you think pronunciations should be supplied for Xilomen and Coatlicue? It is essential that they be pronounced and unreasonable to assume that the reader has a reading knowledge of Aztec. But I dislike a messy page with little crumbs at the bottom. Maybe it is better to let the reader find out for himself if he cares to.

The question of whether a barrage of statements etc is theoretically open for me also. But as you notice, that's where I place my stakes. This is not because I can defend it as a thesis or intent to. It is only my style which is inevitable to me and not consciously mutable. It is not for me to decide. It is you the reader who has to do this, although conceivably I could become so fed up with it myself that I would just stop. I'm sure I am often dull and my statements do sound pompous-may even be intended as pomp. "Others" must look out for themselves. I am the instrument of the world's passion if I am anything at all. You also are such an instrument. But you'll have to take care of that. My poetry does not exist in a world in which there are people who vote and make history. (If I misunderstand you, it is because I intend to). There are many people in the world and if I assume that I speak for them by virtue of speaking only for myself it is because of the conjunction of two conditions

1) we are encapsulated and remote from each other

2) we are interchangeable if not identical though we may appear different in different lights

I think I might be perfectly willing to live in a world in which there were "others" to whom it was possible to be related. But it is only in a barely perceptible way that I live in such a world. I have to give a faithful account of where I live so far as I am able. Not very far. But I cant give an account of your world, or some other world which is not the one I see. If this seems complacent to you, think of it as the complacency of a man whose parachute has failed to open but who is too complacent to start walking to safety in mid air.

I wouldn't know how to invent a god or impersonate him though those things may have occurred-even sequentially. Nor do I know what you are talking about when you bring that matter up. What are you talking about?
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