John Hollander, 1978
POETRY MISCELLANY: In the Notes to "Spectral Emanations," you refer the reader to Kierkegaard Either/Or, specifically, I assume, to the chapter entitled "The Rotation Method," as a source for the title of your poem, "Rotation of Crops." It seems to me that Kierkegaard places the source of action in a boredom, which is itself the "result of the Nothingness that pervades reality." The method for overcoming this boredom--a moral and metaphysical ennui--is this Rotation Method. It is based on a principle of limit that involves a balance between remembering and forgetting, tradition and freedom. For Kierkegaard, the crucial thing is self-limitation, which can include a subversion of hope, and achieving results intensively rather than extensively.
JOHN HOLLANDER: The turning around of what was there and turning it into something else--in those two senses of turning into, that is, conversion and inversion--I suppose now that you mention it, I'd have to say it is very basic.
What I was doing in that poem was substituting for the erotic methodology of the first part of Either/Or a poetical one. I was very unhappy when I wrote the poem, very unhappy with my work. It was written just after The Night Mirror, which had been badly received, and the "tedium" in the poem concerns my discontent with what I had previously written. So it is a poem about farming my own work--I use the definite article as in the phrase "the Farmer John" to refer to part of myself.