Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Daniel Mark Epstein, 1980


Double Vision

POETRY MISCELLANY: I'd like to talk first about what seems to me to be a cluster of tensions in your work, the basis for its very ironic character. Your work is characterized by a gesture of inclusiveness: "Like Noah I want to bring everything into the house," you say in "Summer House." But this inclusiveness is achieved in a startling way. At the end of the poem you refer to "the horizon / no man can see without turning his back on it." And you talk about being "a better neighbor to the unknown." Inherent here seems to be a necessity to see things indirectly or askew, to include things by turning from them, which perhaps explains why so many of your characters are excluded from society--misfits, assassins, people missing limbs, various hermetic types. An undercutting occurs here, then--a complex double vision that attempts to include the world, but from odd perspectives. There's an odd way, to refer to one other poem, in which the characters in "The Follies" all touch each other, include each other, radiating out from Mr. Cantini's baritone, yet in which they also remain separate, their perspectives detailed.

DANIEL EPSTEIN: It's amazing to me that you use the phrase "double vision." I have a new poem with me that I wanted to show you called "The Sentry of Portoferrario," and it focuses on a "broken boy" whose eyes "blindly fix upon each other" and who has been "Born lame as an old joke." He's the "sentry" and "keeps his watch high on the falcon fortress" with a

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Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Path of Saying 1
  • The Sanctioned Babel 7
  • Untelling the Hour 13
  • The Domain of the Marvelous Prey 19
  • The Hallowing of the Everyday 27
  • Event: Corrective: Cure 32
  • Stepping into the Sky 39
  • Unnaming the Myths 48
  • On the Horizon of Time 53
  • Distilled from Thin Air 61
  • The Imminence of a Revelation 69
  • Renaming the Present 77
  • Lives We Keep Wanting to Know 84
  • Doubling the Difference 93
  • Questions of Will 101
  • Settling in Another Field 107
  • Living the Layers of Time 113
  • Double Vision 120
  • Emergencies of the Moment 126
  • The Languages of Illusion 132
  • The Mystery of Things That Are 140
  • Before the Beginning 146
  • On the Margins of Dreams 153
  • Unbreakable Codes 158
  • Projecting the Literal Word 164
  • Answering the Dark 172
  • Shaping Our Choices 178
  • Magic: Power 183
  • On the Periphery of Time 191
  • The Candle in the Pitcher 196
  • Selected Bibliography 206
  • Index 213
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