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From an Interviewwith Duane Davis for Waste Paper(1993)) WP: Your use of languageclearlyviolates many of the rules and restrictions imposed on poetic diction as taught in the academic setting or as accepted by the established poetry magazines and college journals. In some ways I see this as similar to efforts made in certain avant garde musics to re-introduce us to "noise," to words and sounds that have been taken away from us because they are dangerous and inappropriate to the kinds of expression regarded as acceptable and polite in our society . In your poem "The White Tiger" you note, "the imagination rejects even the most / filthy matter to its peril." What is that "peril"and why is it important not to rejectit? ce: Well, the so called "filthy matter" can come from a number of places. On a social plane it comes from anger, dissent, outrage, from, as it were, the way things are. For me, on a more interesting level, it would come from the dream or the unconscious and often involve material that is consciously censored which in our still quite Puritan society often constellates itself around the lower body. I find that if one closes off that lower fountain of material which appears to the rational mind to be incoherent one considerablyreduces the grounds for poetry and for an expression of the soul. In other words, once you eliminate a particular area of sensation in language then you begin to pull into a rational focus what is proper as opposed to what is improper. I feel that one of the key thrills or meaningfullnesses of writing poetry is writing asleep awake. In other words, one should have access to as much of the mind as is possible so that one is writing in a kind of trance in contact with material that in dream is amoral, promiscuous, and packed with This interview appeared in Waste Paper #33, a free "rock, rap, reggae, metal, hardcore, grunge, electronic,industrial and psychedelic"musicmagazine, Denver, 1993. 2 8 2 C O M P A N I O N S P I D E R information. The attitude of rejecting that sort of material comes from a dislike of the unconscious. We still suffer in our society an attitude that unconscious equals chaotic, equals mad, equals utter disorganization and I don't believe that at all. I think that anyone who has shapely dreams or anyone who has dreams they are willing to accord as bringing them information that they are otherwise unable to get at realizes that the imagination has its own coherence and will trust that the coherence of the imagination often takes one into areas that from a rational , practical and "sensitive" viewpoint of self-regard seem to be obscene , nutty and incoherent. But then one goes back to this material and sees that it has its own way of working. wp: You have said in regards to that particular area of Artaud's work that you admired that work but you felt there is a risk of becoming so mad you are unable to communicate at all. How do you yourself balance out a social awareness and a place in a social scheme with the kind of "I" you are given as a child while you try to get in touch with an unconscious out of which you think poetry has at least some of its power? ce: In the spirit of some of Robert Duncan's remarks about madness, I would say that a writer such asmyself must invent madness because I'm not clinically mad. (This said with a laugh.) I have to invent amadness in language to be able to unleash the imagination. In inventing a madness I'm a different kind of writer than Artaud was,who actually experienced and went through multiple personalities, inability to communicate , fecal obsession, etc. Yousuggested that I felt that Artaud's position was limited. I think that may have come from remarks I made in which I acknowledged that Artaud remained obsessed for the rest of his life after he began to write again. His obsessions inevitably wheel around certain major blocks of compulsive material. So to some extent one is constantly on the same merry-go-round with Artaud because he cannot release himself from certain powers that had literally shut him up for years. But I find that he is capableof penetrating areas that most writers have never allowed themselves to think about in...


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