Each of us has a pool of words we usually draw upon when we speak (words that we feel comfortable with and that we use without any special thought). We also have another larger pool that we draw upon in a similar way when we write. Usually we use these words (and combine them with other words) in a certain way.
In constructing the poems gathered in The House of Grand Farewells I used a method that attempted to alter my writing both by including words I would not ordinarily use, and by combining words in unusual ways, different than my ordinary way of writing. As part of the process I used a book that listed words alphabetically (a book of frequently misspelled words during the first year of the project, and a dictionary for the second and third years).
I would start by opening the book at random, scanning the words on the facing pages until my eyes landed upon one that caught my imagination. Then I would open the book again at random in a different place, and again scan the facing pages until I found another word that caught my eye and seemed to make a connection with the first. I’d continue doing this until the piece seemed complete, formed by combining the random act of opening the book and scanning the page, with the conscious act of choosing a word that seemed to “connect” in some way with the previously chosen word(s). In this way I produced poems that I never would have written under normal circumstances. The results were often surprising, even to myself.
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. "Hat" was written on the typewriter at work (as were all the pieces in The House of Grand Farewells) when I was working at the World Trade Center - I would write on my lunch hour and break using my typewriter there. Once I left the job in 1995 I started writing almost exclusively in pocket notebooks on the train going to work (or when I was in the laundromat or in waiting rooms) - that continued until I retired two years ago - once i retired I've continued writing in pocket notebooks but have been on the trains less frequently, so I have started writing more on my PC - i haven't even owned a working typewriter for decades (after i gave mine to my son) –
What my poems mean is their experience upon the reader or listener (and the way they perhaps transform the experiencer in some small way). While the poems of The House of Grand Farewells frequently resemble surrealism, they also often contain obvious or implied narrative content as well.