Asked to contribute something to the fifteenth anniversary issue of a journal I was in on the ground floor of, & have watched for the decade and a half since, I cast my eyes over my hard drive. Should I send some of the emerging 10-line poems? They seem too fresh, too raw, not quite ready. Do I have any essays on hand, or books I'd like to review?
Almost by chance, I stumbled on a conference paper on Susan Howe I'd delivered not long ago. I tend, when writing conference papers, to write towards the 20-minute frame—it should begin with a hook, continue in a lively and unexpected manner, and end with a minute or two to spare, in case I want to crack a quick joke along the way. (I have little patience with the old This paper is a part of a longer project, so I'm going to be making cuts on the fly as I read thru it business, which has irritated me from too many of my colleagues.) I also tend to write rather formally in such situations, footnoting my references as I go. I've noticed that Geoffrey Hill, in his Oxford lectures, actually reads out his footnotes, publication dates page numbers and all—but this is purely for my own use.
Which leaves me with a well-turned and (I venture to say) smartish essay on Howe, references and all, that I've just never gotten around to placing. And looking over my CV, I find myself blushing at how many of such nicely-put-together 3000-word pieces I've actually got gathering dust. Enough, if I were to add in fugitive book reviews and a few little uncollected essays, to make another collection the size of Intricate Thicket. I need to get busy.