MITS Introduction

Made In The Shade
(Poetry, Prose, Journals 1979-1999)

by Pat Nolan

Introduction & Instructions to the Digital Edition

Made In The Shade began with poems written in 1982, one a day for a year. Or that was the intent. What with holidays and unexpected interruptions and emergencies, a little over two hundred poems were written. They were edited, fussed over, and weeded out for the following ten years or so. During that time and afterward, the idea of the literary “environment” came under development as a fabric into which the poems could be incorporated. The resulting richness and complexity was that of an organic, self-organizing principle in shaping the outcome. Disparate elements of the literary fabric consisting of notebook entries, interview/dialogue, letters, narratives, rain, footnotes, subtexts, commentary, and the poems from 1982 are the materials of the document.

Journal entries become a context within which to consider literature, attempts at literature, the history of literature, and the life of literature as embodied by the author. The mysteries of the self-evident are details and detailed. As consciousness is a stream, its course can be tracked, not so much in sentences, but as equations of states of being.

The interview as interior dialogue is a mobius strip, turning from first person to second person and back as imaginary discourse often does. Though the thrust of the “conversation” is set by literate concerns, a chorus of other voices enables it to speak with a certain authority. Luminaries such as George Steiner and Roland Barthes, Philip Whalen and Robert Creeley, John Updike and Tom Clark, Marcel Duchamp and Robert Graves, among others, give voice to an exchange that is serious as it is facetious, random as it is predictable.

Correspondence, formal and informal,  recognize an existence that is not solely of the page. And like the narratives, they offer an anecdotal view that is also intimate. For their part, the narratives remark on those fabled days when the convergence of inspiration and wild abandon contributed to a sense of camaraderie and shared destiny not since duplicated.

Footnotes and subtexts are positioned as diversions, self-mocking asides that undercut the worldly seriousness of the work. As well they are employed to illustrate a sense of antiquity of the art known and practiced as poetry as exampled by rambling, arbitrary ruminations on Orpheus. The rain prose, like rain itself, is an insidious though seasonal presence.

The poems act as the superstructure of Made In The Shade and chart a year of creative activity, the ups and downs, the peaks and dips. Some of the poems are fashioned from accidental fragments of a fractured existence. As shards of perception arranged to effect a pointillist resonance, their meaning, to paraphrase Philip Whalen, is what they are allowed to mean. Still others are works of a single breath, inspired from a dark and mysterious place that reaches back into a primal realm of original impulse, a blurt from the sniggering void.

To organize such an unwieldy collection of material, Made In The Shade was originally conceived as a 4 volume, 12-issue magazine. Each of the volumes, as well, coincided with a calendar season and each month was assigned its own issue of 12 pages to complete the squared symmetry of 144 at year’s end. Published as a very limited edition (less than 100 copies per issue) in the late 90s, Made In The Shade worked at a comprehension and compression of the spirit of 20th Century American poetry and was issued over the course of the last years at the turn of the century. It is only epic in the sense that it consists of many pages, otherwise it is a documentary of the poem and its environment.

Before the impact of the digital horizon dawned, Made In The Shade arrived as double side printed ledger sheets stapled in the fold pamphlet. Each volume had its own cover and introduction repeated in its numbers. Their production invariably involved trips to Kinkos followed by collating and stapling. The cover art rather crudely references three Classical themes: phases of the moon, triple goddess/maenads, and Orpheus, primal poet under the overspreading tree of life where he enacts his word magic. As each volume appeared, the cover depictions became a little more elaborate and original, ending with their most abstract representation thanks to a photo by Susanne Lang. Further depictions of the cover theme have advanced over time due to an accrual of skills and are represented as headings and illustrations in this republishing.

The digital version eliminates the page format rendering the work in blocks and sections. Footnotes and subtexts now appear as endnotes. Posted once a month over the course of the year as a serial documentary of times and places and the poetry they engendered, Made In The Shade finds itself repurposed in a fractal light and afforded certain bells and whistles in presentation not available with the original edition. Access to current volumes and numbers, updated monthly over the span of a year, is through the menu bar ribbon at the top of this page, or by browsing the posts individually. Technologically advanced editorial prerogatives were exercised to ensure the work’s alignment with the pressures of its being where its being is being which is here. Abandon all hope, etc.

Pat Nolan, Monte Rio, January, 2022