Brandon Shimoda
Winter Dwelling
fragments from a relationship                                        (page 6)
western Maine, 2010-2011

FEBRUARY 1. Joe posted a call on Facebook that caught my eye. I immediately thought of my daughter, who has been part of the poetry scene here, and likes to perform. To let you know, I didn't necessarily need a phone conversation, but some details regarding what you're envisioning for the piece, your sense and rationale for why you wish to have a girl her age doing the reading...

FEBRUARY 1. This whole thing came about with me not feeling like the best representative of my writing, certainly not publicly, and having the simultaneous feeling of the best representative being a girl of about 7-10 years old, Korean-American—with a certain kind of voice, bearing, and relationship to the world. And for this girl to be "Brandon Shimoda"—in fact, to be the better representative of myself than myself. I can explain more on the phone, and to talk with you about whether or not the whole thing makes any sense at all! After all—the woods do devilish things to my sense of what MAKES sense ...

FEBRUARY 2. I've spent the last two days looking closely at three photographs of my grandfather—that one where he's wearing a bra at Ft. Missoula, and two of him, my dad and me, from November 1978. In the Ft. Missoula photo, my grandfather is 32, the age I am now. And my father is 29, the age I was then. So I'm trying to disassemble their faces and situations, will them through my pupils—urethra, esophagus—make them real before me, in me. I guess part of my question of doing nothing is doing this—looking closely, to become a family in mind.

FEBRUARY 3. I feel—and am continuing to feel that poetry is an act of bad faith, fundamentally, in and with the world as it is, as it allows of itself, and that poets themselves are mistaking their task, by writing poems, when they should in fact be attending to a good faith attention to the world as it is.

FEBRUARY 4. It is hard to know when to stop reshaping something, and also to know, or recognize, when the thing is starting to shape itself, when enough mind has been established that the thing can begin to manifest its own. Is there ever an absolute shape? Isn't the guiding principle of all "things" change? That any attempt to reshape something is an attempt to correct one's own reflection? Once you turn away, the thing is going to emancipate itself from that correction. The original process and constraints will always be there—they don't need to be endlessly telegraphed, because then you have a book that is just like any number, which adhere pathetically to their formal constraints, the poems themselves dead on arrival. But ... they are there, always will be, which means that there is no possibility for abandoning them—just as we cannot abandon our traumas, our memories, however much we might not exactly live governed by them, day-to-day, you know what I mean?

FEBRUARY 9. I don’t even want to write this in an email, but I want it to be said. "Your" reading was—transformative is a word I could throw against it, joyous—since I've gotten back I’ve thought back on it a number of times and each time without realizing it, I'm smiling, I'm in awe—"Hero" totally owned that reading, owned your words, was a consummate performer, was at times briefly rattled, ever so briefly, and rose above the moment with ease, an ease one rarely sees in experienced poets, and had a relation to the material, a feeling for it which was articulated so much more clearly than any other poet I saw read that or any night. Barely made it over to my own reading in time, but there was no way I was going to miss "yours."

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