Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snake on the Bathroom Scale: Writing and Music

Jay Gamble at the University of Lethbridge is interviewing me about my writing.  And, this morning, since I feel filled with the iridescent phlegm of bagpipers, glorious with flu, I did answer like some kind of flu-medication oracle, my brain a slick semi-sensate pseudopod sliding across the surface of sense.

Here's one of his questions and one of my more coherent answers.

You are also a musician.  How does music inflect your writing, particularly poetry?
I see music as a patterning of sound images (The theorist James Tenney would say ‘temporal gestalts’). The web of interactions and relations between these sound images are analogous to the interactions and relations in a text. Rhythm, image, word, sound, form, resonance with past images. These inseparable elements interact both temporally and atemporally.

If a poem were a snake in the bathroom, and it slithered onto the bathroom scale, each section’s weight as it crossed the scale would be influenced by each other section. You’d have to consider it to be a kind of quantum bathroom scale to make any sense of it. Which is how I feel when I slither onto the scale myself.

So my process of music composition and textual composition is actually quite similar. I’m creating the snake as I weigh it. And I try to eat right and get enough exercise.


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