What is the difference between the imagination and crime? Writing is an act, but how much of it can we hold accountable, true, valid--especially here on the internet?
When do our journals and notebooks and even our books in print implicate us in the courts of rumor? Of course, as soon as someone reads them like good gossip. The bigger implication, considering the current administration's Homeland Security policies, and our country's political paranoias in the past, make this question dangerous. You don't even have to look at politics, just watch the tabloid shows one night and watch the stalkerazzi fuel us like a mob for blood, sin, and the salacious failures of character.
I'm thinking about these questions because I've recently had the unfortunate experience of being severely misread and misinterpreted. Someone I was intimately interested in has read these entries and made assumptions about the writing as obsession, as evidence of stalking.
This is not a diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language.
I began this blog unsure about how to approach it, wanting to take part in a community online, but not necessarily wanting to become that hyper-confessional kind of site. Let me say it again--this is not my diary.
I've been concerned about being too personal here, as well as too academic. Not that sites that focus their space in these ways don't interest me, it's just I've been trying to make this into a space that is my own: a notebook of language. My real world community, on the other hand, is very small, and it worries me that a strange gossip has caught metaphysical fire around me, without me even knowing about it! What's worse is that some of my local neighbors are also students at my school, and this is particularly upsetting.
I think I've tried naively to maintain this site anonymously, but I see now the dangers inherent to online writing. This, even if it's not formal, is a place of publication. . . semi-private. . . I'm still trying to understand what this means. I think my intuition to reference pornography has to do with this idea: that we are on display in intimate ways, even if these intimacies are choreographed, and that there is a kind of persona this creates for each of us. Sometimes our site becomes a mask that readers, Friends and Strangers, begin to expect of us.
So I've decided to be a bit more professional about this site, update my profile, acknowledge the fact that this will ultimately be a resource for students as well as a way to maintain a kind of dialogue with the web community. It sort of pisses me off. I'm not sure whether this will be a useful place for me. . . If I don't have the same kinds of freedom as I do in a hand-written notebook, then what's the point? I guess I'm still trying to figure out what it is I want from this kind of space.
What I do know is that I very much appreciate reading your sites, Friends and Strangers, and that they've been important, sometimes even invaluable, to my sense of being a writer--which is something realized in complete isolation. So I thank you.
As for my real life, I feel like I've been walking around my neighborhood, my coffee shops, my bar, seen by a number of people who I know who are wondering whether I am this "stalker"--the rumor has indicted me. Its the revenge of mediocrity, since people are sheep.
And for the record, a few kisses one afternoon do not constitute enough emotion for self-destruction, obsession, mad love, or more than a line or two of real poetry. I betchu think this song is about you. . . .but it ain't.
This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.
My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.
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