Before Goddard, Michael Deragon had been a technical writer and an English teacher in a small town alternative secondary school. He came to the low residency MA in Individualized Studies Program to study surrealism and writing. His thesis was a poetic exploration of teaching, desire, seeing, surrealism and simultaneity. Since graduating he has taught surrealism, poetry and film noir at a New England art school, and he is now studying experimental sound and writing at the California Institute of Art. He has also been publishing poems, and his CD, the great invisibles’ you left me haunted – many of whose lyrics were written while he was at Goddard – has been released on broken sparrow records.
Michael: before attending the individualized masters program at goddard i had always written both music and poetry, yet the poetry never seemed to keep up with music or my own imagination. i hadn’t discovered a confident writing voice.
while attending goddard i studied with three amazingly powerful and unique women who altered my writing, my music, my focus and, most importantly, my perspective.
i began working with ellie epp. her suggestions for readings (the descent of alette and time, space and knowledge, most importantly) and vigilant responses to my faltering writings created in me a sense of confidence. her ear became a reason for me to write more. to take leaps. to fail. to recreate. to edit. my writing leapt ahead of me.
next i worked with lise weil, who stretched my boundaries in different ways. lise’s extensive knowledge as an editor and her love of helene cixous, carole maso and nicole brossard rocked my surrealist boat and i found new writing mentors. lise’s keen editing eye rounded my edges enough so that my writing’s focus was now my force of evocation.
last, my thesis advisor, caryn miriam goldberg, a wonderful poet, was implicit in the creation of my book length manuscript (some of which now appears in small journals). caryn cares about every word and every nuance of language. she makes you care about your word choices, your perspectives and how language plays in the minds of an audience.
together these women have been indispensable to my understanding of the artistic process.
From Michael’s thesis, what i was wanting:
I begin writing automatically;
a process complicated with mistakes, strange turns, and uncomfortable silences.
Now, I have the attention of my world, what is being said? Is there anything that has meaning? It seems everything has too much meaning. Nothing that last forever. These things, these objects, these thoughts, contradict.
I contradict myself, expand into something different. Explanation is rendered meaningless.
How resplendent things have become when i let these thoughts, these languages, these bodies back onto their natural course. Simply being.
Like the ocean striving for nothing but giving life to so much. Embodiment.
Automatic poetry, according to Dadaist Jean Arp, comes straight from out of the poet’s bowels or out of any other of his organs that has accumulated reserves. A funnel puts feet into dreaming flesh, stuck into the weight of language as language grows. Sending waves. The automatic sea.
There are no civilizations, nor phantoms, without poems. Automatic writing is wide-open and sticky. Nothing gets in here, or is seen, that isn’t wanted.
With my eyes wide open, and the pen moving as fast as I can enable it, there are things here. Odd things. Perfect things? Objects from somewhere foreign. Something suggested. Something flawed. Art exists in the prying open of these heavy ante-chambers of suggestion.
Thought itself is writing. Waves. Language.
The weight of language.
The weight of love.
A pen like fresh warm guts.
My gut crackles within language.
A first time kisser. Each word is a flame eating the air. My words are a gut reaction. This is the language I love. I begin here. Stepping into liquid.
Everything at once like making love, like dreams/nightmares, like the unequivocal hunger of desire, like surfing, like cubism, like dada, like surrealism and dreams.
The erotic fury, says Mexican poet Octavio Paz, in the face of the enigma of presence and an attempt to descend to the origin, into the pit where bones and seeds commingle. I belong to language like violent waves belong to a hurricane. It’s visual; it’s surreal at times. It is hard and absolute like a ditch carved in granite. A worker’s tired hands shake the bride of the marvelous.
“Here are my words.”
“Eat them with me.”
They come like words. Attend to them.
This language evokes the secrets of the unconscious.
Dreaming in the most ordinary places within days and within nights. Beyond
where we stand.Odd objects stand up and do the things they are not supposed to do. Helicopter skies and a sleep light on the wings of a breakfast plate as the woman becomes the warm part of the house.
“You have fallen in love before?”
“You’ve seen this too?”
The poetic finger, the poetic nail, the poetic nags at the comfortable. We live as we are. Words move the immovable. Let’s break away from our rationality, says Futurist F.T. Martinetti, as out of a horrible husk and throw ourselves like pride-spiced fruit into the immense distorted mouth of the wind!
I begin to write. I begin to live.
I might be a surrealist. I can’t determine. I don’t want to. I spit up mad words, a bold life, the other, seeing, not seeing, things happening all at once, quickly. Meaningful. Meaning nothing. Felt on the skin automatically. I contradict.
I’m inspired by ferocious states received in dreams, in love, in secret beings.
I want the uncensored and unrelenting feeling of being alive.
I want to be of the mystery. I’m not a surrealist!
My propeller arms, oscillating between something seen and something unseen. At once. I found myself in a dream. The quality of so much.
I write through the clouds and into a house of tongues.I’ve climbed into the ocean. I’ve put in for a job out there.
I would be teaching the fish to fly. A career worthy of a lifetime.