Anselm Hollo
from Corvus (1995)



Lines from Ted: An Ars Poetica



"Plagiarism-Good! Communism-Bad!

You can't fool anyone
You can't fool anyone that knows anything

But anything that you can use, you should use it"

                           —Ted Berrigan at Naropa,July '82



Ho Chi Minh wrote poetry
Richard Nixon didn't have any interest in any art at all
And Richard Nixon had all the chips
Ho Chi Minh didn't have any
But of course as it turned out he had them all
It was not because he was a poet and Richard Nixon wasn't
But perhaps because he was a bit more aware of .. . Nature ... I mean
The President of the United States
                                                              as long as he's in office
Doesn't drive his own car Ho Chi Minh didn't have that problem
He couldn't find cars very often
When he could he probably found a driver
But usually he was running down some trail looking for a cave
Because enormous airplanes were overhead trying to bomb him
It kept him alert


It's true that Form does follow Content
Except that that sentence is gibberish
Those nouns and that verb don't go together
That's like saying the egg follows the picture frame
Which no doubt it does       But not in any way
That we are entirely sure of      except when we say so
We could say form is always and only an extension of content
But then we are liable to sound very peculiar
Only certain people are able to get away with
Saying things like that
Form and Content      That's like saying
If you cut off someone's head and destroy their form
Then you fuck up their content
                                     Well that's true that's true
But you don't know much more by saying that      I'll tell you


I sometimes wonder
                                   I sometimes think about how many poets
For example those poets in the universities with suitcoats on
Some of whose works I like very much nevertheless
How many of them broke their own hearts
Fighting against their own natural tempo and pace
             in order to try to write
What was supposedly the right tempo and pace
For English-American literature?
You have to make your work at your own pace
It is made of words
                                   One word after another
Some people do it in phrases
Others are beautiful writers of sentences
& some are beautiful writers
              of one word at a time


All this business of keeping score
& knowing who's good and who isn't        Fuck it, man
All those that are no good     Why are you thinking about them?
Even if they're famous?       Don't worry
If they're really no good they'll disappear after a while
And even if they don't        So what?
I mean, why are you going to be mad at them?
Because they're taking money out of your pocket?
That's not why you do it
If you want to get some money in your pocket       Get some!
If you have a talent for it you'1I get some
If you don't      You got a problem
But just solve it some other way     Ask Allen for some
                                                           Only not this week


There is a standard above which you want your poems to be
If you do five hundred above that standard
And they're all very similar
That might not be having done such a great thing
But what I think happens when a poem works is
That it rises into the air of its own powers
And in doing so it has formed a circle
And it becomes something like the sun or a star
Or a planet
                     Or whatever
I like the idea of it being up in the air
            To have no idea is a good idea
            If it helps you to make a poem
I have to go now
I have to go and think about this for a thousand years


The arts are something given to human beings to do
They improve your senses
It is necessary to do more than earn your daily bread
Shelter & food & ability to get the medicine
For your children when they have a cold
It's necessary to be more of a person than that
As Kenneth Koch said once
                                                  it would be a very difficult life
To be the only Surrealist at the University of Minnesota
              You don't need company to be a Surrealist
              You need company to be alive
We could not be poets if we didn't use words
                         Perhaps there are animal poems too
You can be fat lazy poet & still be a pretty good poet at forty
                is the hardest test for a poet


You are faster than your consciousness
Just like everyone knows a lot more than they're able to say
"How do I know what I mean until I see what I say?"
Say "ooga-booga" and see if you can think of something to say
            It is a story
But you often leave out all of the plot
                         because it's poetry it's song
It's song pierced by intelligence with all that feeling in there
              You have to write a lot of garbage
              you may even find a way to include some of the garbage
              in your best poems
And make those poems be more like places that include garbage
You can come and sit up here and be a great guy
But you can't make a living


When you sleep under a tree and have a good night's sleep
You don't say "My new house is a lot better than my old house"
Except if you want to be poetic
I mean it's not a house you know it's a tree
Houses have mice and rats and things like that in them
And trees have crickets under them For one thing
Because everybody knows something
                But as Frank O'Hara once said
                ''I'm assuming everything is all right and difficult"
& Robert Lowell said
"I learned everything from William Carlos Williams"
And Allen said "Good God! What did you learn?"
& I said to Bob Creeley "Bob, how was your day?"
& he said "Well . .. I was reading Shelley"


Once in my life I batted against a pitcher
Who played in the majors
He hit me right in the leg & I went down like I'd been shot
& I had a bruise on my leg this big for about a month
& he wasn't even really good
When I saw that ball coming it was coming so damn fast
I was just looking at it
I saw it was going to hit me right in the leg
I braced to hit his fastball
& it came and hit me in the leg & it hurt horribly
I fell down and said I didn't say anything
I wasn't Pete Rose
But then       It's time
It's all about time



The Real Problems are
Like whether or not you should go
To bed with a certain person
Because they have beautiful handwriting
You know as in Lady Murasaki's book
Whom I once had an adventure with
And by that I mean exactly that
                                                        an adventure
No poet worth their salt has less
Than a hundred books in their house
Unless they just sold some to pay the rent
But they'll still buy some more next week
The poet Kenneth Patchen was a poet
Of extravagance   The imagination of extravagance
We don't have many of those now



You can become a Black Mountain poet
If you wish        All you have to do
Is find out what a Black Mountain poet is
& you'll never find out by asking a Black Mountain poet
All music is music    That's a good sentence
It doesn't have any meaning
"Take these brains from my pillow"
What's funny? What's so funny?
It isn't funny        Literature is not funny
Poetry is not funny        It's not funny to be a poet
It's not funny to be alive
Though it is pretty funny but
You think it's funny
You should find out how much I'm getting paid



Hip? Try to talk your way out of whatever you did wrong
When you're talking to the policeman
              the farthest you can reach is your hip pocket
But the policeman is not the guy
              you're supposed to reach in your hip pocket for
But somebody up higher
I mean it's difficult to be hip
It's difficult not to be, too
If you learn everything about writing
From some supposed terrible boring Academic poet
That doesn't matter        It's you
It's what you want and what you write
Or if you want to write like some horrifying Beatnik
It still doesn't matter     it's what you write



If there's a little room up there
A waiting room that you can wait around in
For five hundred years
You can check from time to time to see
What they're saying back there on Earth
As to whether you did it or not
                                                    "He did it"
But as for one's self
One can't use the word did
                                               ever     See?
Because you're not dead
So it's just like you did that & you did this
               but did you do it?
But even with Shakespeare
There'll be fifty years when they'll be saying "This guy
You don't have to read this guy       Read that guy"



The poet whose works you love
Who's changed your life
& given it shape     & become a Great Moral Source
Of Support in your life
May just be a prick with a bad character
Don't let that worry you
They just have bad days all the time
If you're vulnerable to never wanting to read their works again
             when you find that out
Then never go any closer to them than this
Because it's the works that are the truth
Every person has a right
Poet or not
                    to be judged by their best
The only credit poets get is for being poets
Then putting their words together    & coming up with poems