Friday, April 2, 2010

Letters from an Old Gent

Part of the fun of writing a new book is discovering those things that inspire one's writing. My inspiration always comes from books, be it Shakespeare or Wilde or Lovecraft (those constants of genius!). To-day's inspiration came from picking up the wee Arkham House volume, Dreams and Fancies, which I purchas'd at World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. I read the second letter on page three, writ by HPL to Maurice W. Moe, and it's imagery so charmed me that I knew I wanted to try and express something inspir'd by it as a new prose poem. I've been writing individual prose poems, but I suddenly felt a desire to write a new sequence of related pieces, & it came to me that I wanted this sequence to be ispir'd by the wonderful letters of H. P. Lovecraft. This got me glancing over various volumes of HPL's letters, which led me to write a wee review of Essential Solitude at Amazon, where the book had not yet received any reviews. Finally I went back and read once more that letter to Moe, and thus I came to write, to-night, the first of a sequence that I have entitl'd

Letters from an Old Gent


May 15, 1918
My dear Maurice:--
The town to which I have journeyed was very strange indeed. As I hovered above it I thought the plan of roads most peculiar, as the lines, combined, formed some kind of sign that I was once able to understand but could now not comprehend. The place was not deep enough to be called a valley; rather, it was like a sleepy hollow betwixt ranges of horrible gray hills. How can hills be horrible? Their queer shapes were suggestive, as if they had once been living forms who had fallen down and so perished beneath the wind that never seemed to silence. They were titanic heaps of ashen sod on which no living thing existed, heaps that held no memory of when they roamed and ruled. Their loneliness seemed echoed on the stone-paved streets of the dead town, on which no soul sojourned. I floated to one main street and marveled at the numerous statues of robed figures, figures that were inexorably rotting in the edacious wind. I could sense it all around me, the voracious air; I could hear it smelling for me, as though it would rot me too, until I was nothing but a formless pillar waiting to crumble into dust.
Is it not strange, Maurice, that even there -- among a multitude of phantoms -- I was yet the Outsider? I hovered in a place in which I did not belong, observing everything of which I will never be a part. Even the daemon wind could not touch me, which made me rather sad; for I wanted to feel that ancient place, to walk along its antediluvian roadways, to lean against the cracking planks of slanting habitations. I did not belong to that realm, familiar though it seemed, nor did it appertain to me in any way. It was some distant memory of a place I might have known -- and lost.
I see it, now, but mistily. If I close my eyes, Maurice -- if I close my eyes... There, they are shut, and before their flaps I see impressions still, red and black, as formless as the horrible hills. Perhaps -- perhaps I can be of that place, if I teach myself to howl correctly, like the daemon wind that seeks me still, if I learn to howl as one last spectre within a haunted place.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now I can have weeks of fun, reading over the letters of H. P. Lovecraft and finding those gems that will inspire new prose poems for this new sequence. Too, I am slowly plotting in my mind what I hope (against hope) will be a novel concerning Richard Upton Pickman and his relationship to Boston witchcraft. There is so much writing yet to accomplish, thank Yuggoth!

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