In “Composition as Explanation” Gertrude Stein writes: “The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything.” .
Lydia Davis is a writer who is a great influence and inspiration to “everyone,” when everyone includes readers of experimental fiction as well as a myriad of poets “doing everything.” Davis is a master of short fiction and extremely short fiction, as well as a celebrated translator, novelist and poet.
PoemTalk episode 22 was a discussion of the twelfth poem in Louis Zukofsky's Anew series. Recently Michael Nardone made a first-pass transcript of the discussion and here is a piece of that (a draft). We pick up just after we've heard a recording (dated 1960) of Zukofsky reading our poem. And then:
FILREIS: Peter Quartermain, who has written a close reading of this poem, says about the beginning that is sounds almost like doggerel. And he was on his way to praise the rhythms, very striking rhythms. Anybody want to say something about how the poem sounds, of course, now that we’ve heard Zukofsky reading it. What does it sound like at the beginning there?
PERELMAN: Well, I remember the first time I read this poem, and being delightfully bollixed by the first line, thinking, now wait a minute, what did I just read? And it was because of the punning, and yet it’s about seeing and thinking, but clearly sound is in play as well, and the interplay between all the senses and the trans-sensual waves that he is talking about are all there in a nutshell in that opening line.