"... I have dozens of such little note-books left, forming a special history of those years, for myself alone, full of associations never to be possibly said or sung. I wish I could convey to the reader the associations that attach to these soil'd and creased livraisons, each composed of a sheet or two of paper, folded small to carry in the pocket, and fastened with a pin ..." (Walt Whitman, note added to Specimen Days)
How strange to happen upon this having posted about my little folded notebooks & yet this type of coincidence happens again & again. As if a text is somehow choosing its moment. For what I needed to read right now was Specimen Days & to be led back into the poetry which I read with a new recognition.
Reading Whitman this week I had an overpowering sense of poetry worked out of notebooks - much as, I think, Ginsberg had his lightbulb moment leading to the composition of Howl. Never before have I appreciated the fragmentariness of Song of Myself to such an extent & of deeper logics informing the development of the poem. The leaf of grass: the leaf of the page: taking a leaf out of another's book: left-overs, leavings & inter-leavings. (Shake) spear & sphere.
& it just so happens Mark Miller has written a book exactly on this - Whitman's collage principle. If anyone knows how I can get hold of a copy to read asap I would be very grateful - I can't order it from the UK & don't have access to academic library downloads. Stuffed in other words.
This is unfinished business with me ... how is it with you?
I was chilled with the cold types and cylinders and wet paper between us
(A Song for Occupations)