18. METHODS OF BIRTH CONTROL. Washington DC and Philadelphia, PA: Sun & Moon Books, 1983. 5x7½" (P)

Offset, perfect-bound paperback. Gray, white and black cover by Rackstraw Downes. Typeset in Bem at The Writer’s Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Art Consultant: Kevin Osborn. Layout: Matthew Logan.

“More poems written in the style of Hives—four of them—published by Douglas Messerli’s Sun & Moon Books. The poems are ‘Eye Opener,’ ‘The Genetic Ode,’ ‘High Fidelity,’ and ‘Methods of Birth Control.’ The titles are self-explanatory. I wrote them all in Lenox, using the texts from the Lenox Library. I had a vision of composing an encyclopedia—writing a gloss on every possible subject. I can’t remember all of the sources, but I did use Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception for ‘Eye Opener,’ and various biographies of Margaret Sanger for ‘Methods of Birth Control.’ At the same time, I knew I couldn’t keep using other people’s words indefinitely. This book seems close, in nature (and in spirit), to The Maharajah’s Son, which consisted of other people’s letters. And also very much a collage work. I would skim the texts for phrases or lines that would pop out at me and then, after I’d accumulated fifty or more, I would arrange them in a way that made sense. I wasn’t interested in ‘found’ poetry at all; I was really interested in the information and of Pound’s idea of the ‘gist’—of just presenting the bare essentials. And then I wanted the poems to add up to something that was beyond the content. I wanted the content to disappear. I also wanted humor to happen. I was reading Wallace Stevens during this time, and I liked the way he used roman numerals to divide his long, fragmented poems. So each of these short sections is numbered in this way. The book is dedicated to Peggy DeCoursey.” (LW)


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