The experience of making Island Road was, for me anyway, a demonstration of this concept of tradition/"Nowness". Writing this sonnet sequence had its roots over 20 years before, in a "strange encounter" I had with Shakespeare's Sonnets - a sense of the author's "presence" which precipitated sort of a nervous breakdown. (I've written about this in an essay in the Edwin Honig festschrift, A Glass of Green Tea.)

Part of what I was doing was asking myself, how would one write a sonnet sequence today? Every poet who tries, finds their own answer to this. In my case, I wanted to re-experience Shakespeare's sonnets - re-write them. At the same time, I had more contemporary models to hand - Ted Berrigan's, John Berryman's (he wrote a set of sonnets before the Dream Songs) were the ones that intrigued me. I tried to apply Berrigan's jumpy, scattered syntax; I also developed sort of a Berryman's "Henry" (from the Dream Songs) to frame an indirect narrative, a journey through winter darkness to spring, to an encounter with both Shakespeare & the "dark lady". In the penultimate section, "To the Green Constellation", I implicated or imbricated allusions to individual Shakespeare sonnets in a systematic way, based on a study of the calendrical-numerical architecture of the Sonnets by Alastair Fowler (Silent Poetry) : Shakespeare's "day" becomes my "year". The numerical design is noted in the prose opening to this section:

"61 Henry's Dream

In my dream, Everywoman was an icon. We were at a conference on the malaria epidemic. Urban locale--refined, old European (Siberia?). We walked past the coffeeshop at 99 19th Street, around the block, past the museum at 145 10th Avenue, & entered the Birch Tree Grotto (126 Verde Triangle)."

These numbers refer to specific sonnets, which are markers in the pyramidal design Fowler describes.

So what is the point of all these compositional details? I'm showing how the poetry-making process is an activity of producing Now out of time & tradition. My attempt to fuse Shakespeare with a "Henry-redivivus" - a fictional character out of a dead poet's oeuvre - is a process of making Now anew.

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