St. David John, 1980
POETRY MISCELLANY: Hush is particularly interesting for the conception of language that operates throughout the book. There is always something elusive. As Heidegger would have it, there is a presencing that does not presence, or arrive. The character in "Coming Home" is always in the process of doing just that, always being deferred. The elusiveness is manifested in your repeated use of words like "something," "or," and "perhaps"--there is a subjunctive or "undecidable" cast, to borrow from Paul De Man, to this language. And yet, this very language of absences can provide a Derridian "supplement," as in "Naming the Unborn," where the last son is named as if to presence him. And in the poem for Peter Evervine there is a similar presencing, here of a whole world, the son, the field that will be spoken in silence. There is an elaborate gathering of signs, of "traces," if we want to keep this terminology from linguistics and philosophy, that makes a presence of absence in "Hush." The poem becomes, as you say to your son, "The dark watermark of your absence, a hush." Words become not so much denotative signs but signifiers; a poem is made of "some few words that sound like music and the sea." Perhaps, in this context, you could begin by sketching your sense of your language and how it has changed.
DAVID ST. JOHN: These things that you mention have always been for me the most important aspects in poems. The episodic detail in all the poems is