Sunday, June 14, 2009

the English straine / the American constrain

The anthology is the enemy of the poet.

Poets war against the anthology, but it always wins.

The excerpt defeats the complete. X's poems in the anthology outweigh X's Collected Poems.

That is the rule but there are some exceptions, conditionally:

If a poet wants to be read in her entirety, if she is sincere in that desire, she will limit her output. Elizabeth Bishop.

Mallarme's ninetysome pages can yield to a read, but Ashbery's ninetynine hundred?

(Androids can cyber-ingest the latter in 0.1 seconds. Humans unfortunately . . . )

Thus Bishop is closer to Larkin than Lowell. Unlike them, Lowell did not circumscribe. Hold his Collected in one hand and their two Collecteds in the other, and feel the scale of the choices.

The writer of poems (Bishop, Larkin) versus the writer of poetry. Or to use the current cant phrase the writer of poetries.

Product (poem) versus process (poetry). Doubt versus trust.

The poet is always up against it. The choice. Do you believe? Ashbery has faith compared to Bishop's atheism.

Ancillary question (or is it?) is whether to specialize, to develop a personal unique trademark limited demarcatory style.

In other words you can't be Picasso, but maybe you can be a Serge Poliakoff, a Bernard Buffet, a Pierre Soulages.

You can be your own brand. Do you have a choice not to?

At one glance it's an Elizabeth Murray. You can tell it's a Susan Rothenberg from across the room.

Read one Follain poem and you've read them all and why not you say okay that's the way to do it, sticklerism rules.

And besides the marketplace demands it.

Because you don't want the fifth can in your sixpack of Coke to have Pepsi in it, do you—

And you don't want page 42 in your Michael Palmer poetry book to suddenly out of nowhere (hey stop him!) he's trying to write a Sharon Olds-type autobio Confessional poem with a four stress line, you don't want that do you.

You want consistency in the poets you buy, just like the softdrink of your choice; you want Palmer to provide the trademark poems you paid for.

And if you favor Olds, similarly you don't want her in the middle of her book deciding to try some Palmeresque metapoetic nouvelle vagues spaced out double entr'actes.

You want what you bought. You want the brandname poet, not the generic.

You want the Real Thing, Coke after Coke, poem after poem. That's capitalism, and you don't want it any other way.

I'm trying to think of a generic poet. A nonspecialist poet, a non-individualistic, non-capitalist poet. A "Libertine" poet. Brecht? Ashbery?

Michael Drayton, in the introductory sonnet to his sequence Ideas Mirrour. Amours in quatorzains (first edition, 1594; revised in subsequent editions of 1599, 1600, 1602, 1605 and 1619) . . .

("Drayton was an inveterate reviser . . . . He was also extremely sensitive to criticism and to changes in poetic fashion." —Roy Booth, notes to "Elizabethan Sonnets," 1994)


A Libertine, fantastickly I sing:
My Verse is the true image of my Mind,
Ever in motion, still desiring change;
And as thus to Varietie inclin'd,
So in all Humours sportively I range:
My Muse is rightly of the English straine,
That cannot long one Fashion entertaine.

(What a slut.)

But Drayton may be right, at least where contemporary Britpo contrasts with our USApo—

Brit poets have more freedom than USApo's, they can write "in all humours"—

compare for example Duffy vs. Gluck: the former can (and does) write both 'serious' and 'comic' verse, but the latter?— Huh.

USApo's like Gluck (and the others mentioned above) must stick to their patented trademark modes,

whereas Britpo's can range "ever in motion," to whatever "
Varietie" they find themselves "inclin'd"—

USApo's are more professional, more disciplined, than Britpo's—

we don't "sportively" stray—we don't venture out of our lanes.

It's the USA Constrain

vs. the British Straine.


out of it

path out of view

a quote from Lenin (source?):

"Thought proceeding from the concrete to the abstract . . . does not get away from the truth but comes closer to it. The abstraction of matter, of a law of nature, the abstraction of value, etc., in short all scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely. From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice—such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality."

. . . isn't this what Williams means by "No ideas but in things."

The poet (or the typical modern poet anyway) proceeds from the particular to the general. Or back in a paradoxical loop: "proceeding from the concrete" leads not "away from the truth but comes closer to it." (Concrete=truth.) From perception to thought to action ("practice").

Emotions recollected in tranquility lead to the hand coursing across the page which leads the reader to experience those emotions in a cyclical recurrence.

Shakespeare's picture of it is ambiguous:

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

Are the "airy nothings" there before the poet's efforts have trained her eye to achieve a balanced state of conscious (fine) and unconscious (frenzy) perception which is intregrated and thereby strengthened enough to scope it:

do these ethereal Platonic abstractions pre-exist (and ergo post-exist) the poet's endowing of them with an inevitably-temporary "local habitation and name" . . .

Or does imagination, the poet's mind, body forth (create) everything the poet sees—but does the poet ever see, really . . . The poet glances, looks at everything around her, but does

she see anything but what her imagination projects outward in bodied unknown forms, things, phantoms which her pen then shapes and gives a concrete grounding to . . . The "forms" must be turned to "shapes."

Is this unknown airy nothing, in the words of Elizabeth Bishop,

. . . what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free . . .
. . . flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

The grounding of these Ideas in our fleshly intercourse of speech is mortal. Passing, not proceeding. Flowing flown.

The eye must eventually roll out of view, out of the picture.


quote bourdieu unquote knott


"...refusing to recognise anything resembling durable dispositions, Sartre makes each action a sort of unprecedented confrontation between the subject and the world... If the world of action is nothing other than this universe of interchangeable possibles, entirely dependent on the decrees of the consciousness which creates it and hence totally devoid of objectivity, if it is moving because the subject chooses to be moved, revolting because he chooses to be revolted, then emotions, passions and actions are merely games of bad faith, sad farces in which one is both bad actor and good audience."
—Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977), pp73-74.

. . . "Durable dispositions" might translate to received forms and modes which the existentialist experimental poet refuses to countenance, preferring her "interchangeable possibles," her "decrees of consciousness" . . . . but are the latter then "games of bad faith, sad farces in which one is both bad actor and good audience". . . ?

Pierre Bourdieu: "School [the institutional education system] actually reproduces the cultural division of society in many visible and invisible ways despite its apparent neutrality."

([Po-Biz] actually reproduces the cultural division of society in many visible and invisible ways despite its apparent neutrality.)

London Review of Books, 20 April 2006: Bruce Robbins writes that Bourdieu had "an extreme scepticism about the structures of formal democracy, which he believed functioned so as to disguise the hereditary transmission of privilege, allowing the success of some and the failure of the rest to appear as an innocent process of selection on merit."

From the same review (p. 18): "[For Bourdieu,] domains like art and science, which appear to be free from the political and economic constraints operating elsewhere, are in fact structured by an aggessive competition for 'symbolic capital' that is neither open nor equitable. In one way or another, things are arranged so that rewards end up in the hands of those who started at the top of the social hierarchy."

Gee, if Bourdieu was right, might that help to explain the divergent career fates of William Matthews vs. William Knott. Matthews, coming from a background of inherited wealth, was during his lifetime one of the most successful and preeminent poets of his generation. His contemporary, Knott, who grew up penniless in an orphanage, never achieved that status, or anywhere near it.

Ah, if only I could console myself with Bourdieu, and believe that Matthews' success and my failure was indeed not "an innocent process of selection on merit."




From a 1993 interview with David Foster Wallace:

I think TV promulgates the idea that good art is just art which makes people like and depend on the vehicle that brings them the art. This seems like a poisonous lesson for a would-be artist to grow up with. And one consequence is that if the artist is excessively dependent on simply being "liked," so that her true end isn't in the work but in a certain audience's good opinion, she is going to develop a terrific hostility to that audience, simply because she has given all her power away to them. It's the familiar love-hate syndrome of seduction: "I don't really care what it is I say, I care only that you like it. But since your good opinion is the sole arbitrator of my success and worth, you have tremendous power over me, and I fear you and hate you for it." This dynamic isn't exclusive to art. But I often think I can see it in myself and in other young writers, this desperate desire to please coupled with a kind of hostility to the reader.

—Reading this reminded me of something from Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift (1975), page 120, where the narrator Citrine summarizes a frequent lament of Humboldt's regarding the "profession" of poetry:

[Humboldt always said] that poetry was one of the frantic professions in which success depends on the opinion you hold of yourself. Think well of yourself, and you win. Lose self-esteem, and you're finished. For this reason a persecution complex develops, because people who don't think well of you are killing you. Knowing this, or sensing it, critics and intellectuals had you. Like it or not you were dragged into a power struggle.

(Remember that Bellow based Humboldt on Delmore Schwartz.)

If people who don't think well of the poet are killing him, what if he seconds their opinion? Indeed what if, under the circumstances, he has little other choice:

—Because, as Bellow/Citrine observes:

Humboldt did what poets in crass America are supposed to do. He chased ruin and death even harder than he had chased women. He blew his talent and his health and reached home, the grave, in a dusty slide. He plowed himself under. Okay. So did Edgar Allan Poe, picked out of the Baltimore gutter. And Hart Crane over the side of a ship. And Jarrell falling in front of a car. And poor John Berryman jumping from a bridge. For some reason this awfulness is peculiarly appreciated by business and technological America. The country is proud of its dead poets. It takes terrific satisfaction in the poets' testimony that the USA is too tough, too big, too much, too rugged, that American reality is overpowering. And to be a poet is a school thing, a skirt thing, a church thing. The weakness of the spirtual powers is proved in the childishness, madness, drunkenness, and despair of these martyrs. Orpheus moved stones and trees. But a poet can't perform a hysterectomy [Bellow must have forgotten WC Williams] or send a vehicle out of the solar system. Miracle and power no longer belong to him. So poets are loved, but loved because they just can't make it here. They exist to light up the enormity of the awful tangle and justify the cynicism of those who say, "If I were not such a corrupt, unfeeling bastard, creep, thief, and vulture, I couldn't get through this either. Look at these good and tender and soft men, the best of us. They succumbed, poor loonies."

—This [the narrator adds] . . . was how successful bitter hard-faced and canniballistic people [exulted at Humboldt's death].
(quoted from pages 117-18)

The "awful tangle" causes the "awfulness" of the poet's misfortunate fate. Bellow could have added Plath and Sexton and all the other women artists who were, in Artaud's diagnostic term re Van Gogh, "suicided by society."

That there are exceptions (Bishop, Stevens, WC Williams et al) to Bellow's parade of poeticides doesn't change the power of his indictment.

Parenthetically, when I was typing out the above, I remembered Auden's response to Jarrell's suicide (or was it an accident): I don't have the exact quote, but when he was told about Jarrell's jumping (or was it fainting) in front of an approaching car (or was it a truck),

Auden reportedly said: Think of the poor driver!


the rugged and the trim



Kenneth Rexroth edited a Selected Poems of D.H. Lawrence in 1947, reprint paperback editions of which can be found cheaply . . . I remember reading it as a youth, and though I can't point to any specific instance I think it had a profound influence on my writing . . . It's certainly a book that I have purchased several times over, a book I return to and read . . .

Rexroth says many interesting things in the Introduction; looking at it recently I was struck by his comments comparing Lawrence's poems to Hardy's:

"This verse [Lawrence's early rhymed verse] is supposed to be like Hardy's. It is. But there is always something a little synthetic about Hardy's rugged verse. The smooth ones seem more natural, somehow. The full dress, Matthew Arnold sort of sonnet to Leslie Stephen is probably Hardy's best poem. It is a very great poem, but Arnold learned the trick of talking like a highly idealized Anglican archbishop and passed it on to Hardy. That is something nobody could imagine Lawrence ever learning, he just wasn't that kind of animal."

Rexroth is comparing Hardy's "rugged" style poems to Lawrence's: as he points out prior to the passage I've just quoted, Lawrence began as a sort of apparently-on-the-surface Georgian poet, though he differed from them in at least one significant way: "Some of the Georgians had a favorite literary convention. They were anti-literary. Lawrence was the real thing." Thus the Lawrence mode of writing rugged was never a conscious stylistic choice; with his background it came to him naturally (Rexroth: "I don't think he went about it deliberately.") . . .

(Haven't many other poets besides the Georgians played this anti-literary charade? Taking on the Rugged Role is always very tempting.)

Rexroth: "There is a vatic quality in Lawrence that is only in Hardy rarely. . . . Hardy was a major poet. Lawrence was a minor prophet. Like Blake and Yeats, his is the greater tradition."

Well. Robert Lowell pronounced somewhere (I'm quoting from memory) that the two greatest Modern Poets were Rilke and Hardy.

Which means doesn't it that for those of us English-speakers who take Lowell's word as guide and who can read Rilke only in translation, that THE great Modern Poet to encounter in our own tongue is Hardy . . .

Hart Crane, writing to Yvor Winters in a letter dated May 29th, 1927, ventures to say that Hardy is "perhaps the greatest technician in English verse since Shakespeare."

Here's the poem Rexroth named Hardy's best . . . I've never seen it in any anthology:

The Schreckhorn

(With thoughts of Leslie Stephen)

(June 1897)

Aloof, as if a thing of mood and whim;
Now that its spare and desolate figure gleams
Upon my nearing vision, less it seems
A looming Alp-height than a guise of him
Who scaled its horn with ventured life and limb,
Drawn on by vague imaginings, maybe,
Of semblance to his personality
In its quaint glooms, keen lights, and rugged trim.

At his last change, when Life's dull coils unwind,
Will he, in old love, hitherward escape,
And the eternal essence of his mind
Enter this silent adamantine shape,
And his low voicing haunt its slipping shows
When dawn that calls the climber dyes them rose?


Quaint glooms, keen lights, and rugged trim: what semblance to the personality of Hardy's poetry!

Rexroth calls this a "full dress, Matthew Arnold sort of sonnet." So compare it to the one sonnet of Arnold's which is best known and most anthologized, whose subject like Hardy's is mountainous and nothing less than the Everest of us:

(there are no themes for old age, an Arab proverb says, but death and the mountain)


Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask—Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill,
Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty,

Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,
Spares but the cloudy border of his base
To the foil'd searching of mortality;

And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know
Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure,
Didst tread on earth unguess'd at.—Better so!

All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow
Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.

Better so! Why better so?— maybe, because everything that wishes to remain sacred must surround itself with mystery, Mallarme's commandment: the loftiest hill of Parnassus will still maintain its cloudcover 'gainst the foil'd searchings of every mortal reader (every reader is mortal, whereas those who have learned the ropes, ie poets themselves, can perhaps manage to climb each other to a unclouded height whereon they may glimpse a little daylight's eterne) . . .

(Most of us never make it up to the Base Camp. I'm still stuck in rope-tying class: Knotting 101.)

(I don't know if Arnold was the originator of this oeuvre-as-mountain metaphor, but surely it must have been a cliche long before Basil Bunting trundled it out in "On the Fly-Leaf of Pound's Cantos" . . . )

Hardy's phrase "rugged trim" contains in itself the contention, the contradiction. Rugged is "anti-literary," plainspoken colloquial raw; trim means smooth, crafted, in Rexroth's phrases "highly idealized" and "full dress."

Rugged versus trim. Mayakovsky versus Mallarme. Brecht versus Benn. Enzensberger versus Celan. Prevert versus Bonnefoy. Late Neruda versus early Neruda. The Communist Quasimodo versus the Hermetic Quasimodo. Parra's Antipoem versus Stevens' metapoem.

Paz in his great book "Children of the Mire" sums up the history of Modern Poetry as an "oscillation" between "political temptation" and "religious temptation." In other words, Democratic versus Fascist.

The conflict ensues. Pages 320-4, Poetry Magazine, January 05, Danielle Chapman reviews Reginald Shepherd's olio of Post-Avants, The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries [sic].

(By American, they mean U.S. By Poetries, they mean in the Arnoldian sense, that each poet is his or her own peakdom; like mountains each stands far enough apart from all others that borders are called for: in this theoretical distance every poet constitutes a separate realm with its own unique language and heritage, its own tradition of "poetry." So an anthology that brings together works from these loftitudinally-disparate states is per se a transnational one, a gathering of alien poetries . . . )

(by Poetries they mean Oxygen Required. Watch out for falling rocks. No climbers past this point unless accompanied by a guide.)

Chapman characterizes many of the poems here as masturbatory ("jerking off"), "narcissistic," "self-pleasuring," "enamored with [their] own sound" . . . she forgot solipsistic, apolitical, autotelic, reader-unfriendly, elitist, etcet.

Chapman gives more attention to Karen Volkman than anyone else, maybe because she senses that Volkman is so gifted that she damn well ought to be writing better than most of the others in this anthology, much of whose work, Chapman writes, "seems to have been constructed from a book of Mad Libs, where poetry-speak is randomly inserted into a poetic structure and the poem pops out like a product. Even the work of a skilled practitioner like Karen Volkman adopts such gimmickry."

What's the problem, essentially? The same enigma which ModPo since Baudelaire has faced us with, namely, WHAT is this poem about?— (Even more confusing for many readers is that some Modern poems which seem to offer a clearly ostensible subject—Williams' red wheelbarrow is a par example—still present problems in understanding what their "real subject" is . . . )

Chapman: "[P]art of the problem with the poems in the Iowa Anthology—that of obscurity and incomprehensibility—is similar to that which has always beset Language Poetry," not to mention Symbolism, Surrealism, Imagism, and so many other temptologies.—

"[T]he question of what [Volkman's] poems are about is persistent. Eventually it becomes clear that they are in fact about themselves." They disallow us to judge them, Chapman adds: "because the subject of the poem is the poet's own evasive thought process, our [potential] objections are overruled by the mind of the poet, which, by its own definition, moves faster than ours." Didn't Ashbery asset that poets should try to make their poems "critic-proof"?

But making it critic-proof sometimes makes it reader-proof as well. Most readers are, to use Arnold's figure, mortal and don't want to be "foil'd" by a poem, no matter how Shakespeare its author is. They want to know what a poem is about, and they want to know what it's saying about that subject.

So what IS the poem about? What's it all about, Orpheus?

Samuel French Morse in his introduction to Opus Posthumous by Wallace Stevens, hands this injunction down from the bench: "From the very beginning his poems were 'about' poetry; it is the one real subject of Harmonium and all the later work."

Morse then quotes from a 1940 letter by Stevens, who hands it down from his throne:

'The subject-matter of poetry is the thing to be ascertained. Offhand, the subject-matter is what says of the month of August . . . 'Thou art not August, unless I make thee so.'

I think by saying "one real subject" Morse means: as opposed to the ostensible or surface subject.

. . . Either I don't understand the Stevens quote or I'm wrong to see a contradiction where he says the subject-matter has to be ascertained:

in other words, it's not a given, it has to be found and proved;

that's confusing, because he immediately follows that by the "offhand" suggestion that essentially a poem's subject-matter is always the same:

its apparent subject may be August (or whatever), but its real, its eternal subject is the poet's interminably flowing assertion of power and priority.

So evenings die, in their green going, a wave, interminably flowing. In the beginning is the Word, and you, phenomena, are non until I utter it.

Per Mallarme, everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book; for Stevens, the book exists prior to its content. What is subject, and what is the subject.

Here's an Arnoldian sonnet on the subject, by Stevens:


There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Complete in an unexplained completion. That's right: never explain. Harold Bloom's book on Stevens is almost as intimidating and daunting as Stevens himself. Early on he quotes from Emerson:

"[W]e cannot say too little of our constitutional necessity of seeing things under private aspects, or saturated with our humours. And yet is the God the native of these bleak rocks."

Private aspects, private sights, visible only from the poet's eagle-eyrie outlook: so edgy-exact this precipice of bleak rocks where the I alone is native; where no reader dare venture.


i didn't write it

There are more than two types of poets, I imagine, but I'm thinking of these two:

First, poets who write books.

Second, poets who write poems (which are eventually published in collections) . . .

There is a difference between books of poems and collections of poems, isn't there? There seems to me to be a difference, but I may be wrong.

Poets who write a poem for the sake of a book, with the thought of its placement in a book. The point being its inclusion amongst the other poems in the book. The point being the book comes first and the poem second. Any individual poem must conform to the uniformity of the book.

And the opposite: Poets who write a poem for its own sake, with no thought of how or where it may end up within a collection of poems. With no thought of anything beyond the event of the poem itself. With no hope that it may contribute to, or constitute part of, a greater whole.


(I'm not making value judgments here; I'm speculating; I'm trying to configure my thoughts, not promote them to the status of statements.)

The poet who writes books-of-poems.
The poet who writes poems.

Don't you have to write poems to be a poet? Evidently not. You can be a poet by writing, not poems, but books-of-poems.

Anne Carson is a great poet, according to her admirers, and who am I to gainsay their consensus.

But has she ever written a poem?

A great poet who has never written a poem.

A paradox—but "genius" transcends categories.

The book-poet believes; the poem-poet doubts. The devout and the atheist.

The book-poet always has something to do; the poem-poet never has anything to do.

A collection-of-poems was written one at a time, and should therefore be read one at a time. Ergo: read as a whole.

But a book-of-poems can never be read at a time. Only that which can be read at a time is whole. Thus a book-of-poems lacks finish/completion.

I've read a poem, but I've never read a book-of-poems.

The latter can never be read at a time. The putative and conceptual experience is attenuated and extended beyond any occasion.

A quote from Holderlin:

"There is only one real quarrel in the world: which is more important, the whole or the individual part."

Poetry (or the book-of-poetry), or the poem?

I'm sorry, but I don't think this "one real quarrel" can be ended or resolved by proclamation—

Of course you can always assert that your "American [sic] Hybrid" has transcended this argument,

and sell your illusory empty amalgam,

market your scam . . . but?

In any case, I think I prefer to read poems in anthologies. A poem is never really complete until it appears in an anthology.

Even in collections-of-poems, the poem is vitiated by its contiguity, weakened by association.

Or on a sheet of paper blown to my feet; or inked on an animal-hide snatched from a stream. . .

Of course there is always the unhappy realization that occurs when reading a poem;

whether I read it in a book-of-poems or a collection-of-poems or an anthology,

or on an anonymous gutterflap or a cave-wall: there is this sorrowful inevitable certainty, which devastates me each time I read a poem,

which confounds me as I finally understand what reading it means:

it means I didn't write it.


already defunct

excerpts from some google translations of German reviews of Denis Johnson's novel "Already Dead"—

One does not wish Drum at the end, Johnson from the three-lateral poem ' Poem Noir ' of Bill Knott 620-seitigen novel would have gedrechselt itself, but its time better spent...

California Gothic 55 rows satisfy a Bill Knott, and his "Poème noir" was finished. The poem, similar to a Moritat, is a monologue of the dead. In harsh, fast words he remembers to the concatenation of atrocities, which he fell victim to. In fact, a fast-mystery plot. The writer Denis Johnson inspired the eerie piece to 632 pages a heavy boulder. "Schon tot", "Even dead," is the fifth novel of the 1949 American-born.

At the heart of the plot - the very explicitly on a poem by Bill Knott is based - is rich from the home-born, but highly indebted and producer Nelson Fairchield Pot.

Denis Johnson is grateful for the poet Bill Knott that he one of his poems was used as a template . . . The story of the letter is based, is quickly told (and their act is in fact actually a poem by Bill Knott, entitled "Poem Noir" borrowed): Nelson Fairchild, the son of a wealthy family and illegal marijuana farmers, observed by chance Even a murderer.

A story that Johnson's poem "Poem Noir" by Bill Knott thing, the novel is also attached and its action goes something like:

Husband comes home. It rains. He looks like someone in his pond drown want stormed out and rescue him. Geretteter but is determined to die. So man asked him whether it would disrupt the lives of the electric chair to quit. Geretteter denied. So there Mann him with the task of killing his wife. Instead, at the agreed time to kill the woman, he lets them live. Instead, the father of the dying man, and his brother is murdered. The suspicion falls on man he tried to find and saved to make. They collide, fight, man dies in suicide married his wife.

This poem, which is also in the form of a country or blues song could succeed, Johnson transposed into a huge Showers story: "A California Gothic" is the subtitle of the American original.

The core of the novel action, Johnson tells us, goes back to a poem by Bill Knott with the title poem of Noir 1983, in the words of scarce fatal role reversal between the instigators and perpetrators as a vicious circle.