I got a notice from Tumblr, congratulating me on Barking Dog Annex being 4 years old. I’d forgotten it, after writing one entry. I’d given up on a novel I’d been working on for the last 8 years–working title, Found Things. It was finding a folder with my last effort to save it, that got me started reworking it from a whole different angle–thinking of it almost as poetry. I finished it in a few weeks… with a new name, putting it away as Ari Figue’s Cat as I set out to join Occupy Philadelphia on Dilworth Plaza.
This is what I found on Tumblr: 2011
I spent the morning going over the growing collection of papers, files, notebooks, journal entries—all related this Poem to the End of My Days—thinking how I might organize them for search & retrieval. I found an empty box for hanging folders, but no folders not in use. The things are damnably expensive. Kind of thing I hate to spend money on. What about this novel-in-progress… this 8 year project, which, inspecting my garden earlier, it came to me that I would never finish, that it no longer represented anything I wanted to do? I have boxes of drafts… dozens of Pendleflex forders going to waste. I don’t throw this stuff out… one never knows when something will pop into mind—like a burst bubble…an aneurism of memory, & some passage or chapter written years ago will seem exactly what I need.
I can stack the file folders of draft chapters in a box, store them in the closet, free the hanging folders & use them to organize the collection of papers & notes multiplying like kudzu. & what do I find in the first folder I open, but something I’d started working on a year ago, April…”Found Things Versed” (“Found Things” being the working title of this novel). I’d had in mind rewriting the whole thing as poetry. There were trial efforts at paragraphs of prose poems interspersed with open & broken line verse, journal entries… the prototype for Poem to the End of my Days… & I’d totally forgotten it. Or rather, put it out of reach of conscious thought, but not at all out of mind. This kind of thing happens so often that it no longer surprises me—but never ceases to wonder & amaze me… at how the mind works. It took me … 9 months… yeah, think of that. Nine months. Before I took this idea up in a more suitable form. No wonder those first 100 pages came so quickly… like pulling them out of storage.
Found Things possess a strangeness that will not easily surrender to the death of ownership. Let go. Let go of owning & more & more of the world will give itself to being found… & what you find, in not being owned, will be more truly yours than any Thing you will ever call ‘mine.’
May 9, from Jacob Russell’s Barking Dog