Friday, May 13, 2005

What It Is--Continuing the Conversation

After my reading last Thursday, Scott, Robert and I went on about Poetry (that's a surprise!) over a few beers. Later, we went out separate ways and continued it into email. The following are the highlights:

from Scott...


Yeah, I do want to continue the conversation.

I think a poem must have something of the heart in it. Poetry is about emotion
-- for me. Maybe not for you.

I'll look into the blog when I get time. Not now. Trying to pack for Mendocino
with N.

Nice seeing you guys last night after the reading.

Hope you're not mad at me for coming in and "crashing" after you'd read. I had
my class up until 8. I did bring two students though.

from Diane...


Well, I want to try and describe what I think fully, not sum it. Since I don't know what I think fully, that's going to be hard. So for now let me say that I think the heart is the side effect. Something like Emily's directive to tell it slant.

Dean Young says:

Poetry's primary and perhaps only obligation is, through the manipulation of its materials, to express and discover forms of liberty, thereby maintaining the spirit through constantly renewed meanings.

A.F. Moritz says:

Poetry is unavoidably the verbal art of independence and refinement. Refinement is essentially vigor. Its opposite is the simulated vigor of cliches, which are forms of conformity, a stereotyping of attitude and behavior, a removal of suppleness by continual production of copies ever more remote and crude. Refinement is suppleness: closeness of the palpable form to the living pith of experience and its movement.

I like these statements and essentially agree with them. More (maybe) later when I can synthesize some of this and talk about it.

from Robert...

Hey, folks, here are a couple quotes that I like. The first is from James Tate's introduction to the Best American Poetry he edited:

“What we want from poetry is to be moved, to be moved from where we now stand. We don’t just want to have our ideas or emotions confirmed. Or if we do, then we turn to lesser poems, poems that tell you killing children is bad, chopping down the rainforest is bad, dying is sad. A good poet would agree with all of those sentiments, but would also strive for an understanding beyond those givens.

“The poet arrives at his or her discovery by setting language on edge or creating metaphors that suggest dangerous ideas, or any number of other methods. The point is, language can be hazardous as it is our primary grip on the world. When language is skewed, the world is viewed differently. But this is only effective if the reader can recognize this view, even though it is the first time he or she has experienced the thought.”

I think Tate's emphasis on "skewing" encourages experimental writing, but his last sentence (“only effective if the reader can recognize this view”) warns against the excesses of experimental writing. Anyway, I especially like this from Charles Simic’s introduction to his BAP:

“Poetry proves again and again that any single overall theory of anything doesn’t work. Poetry is always the cat concert under the window of the room in which the official version of realty is being written.”

from Diane...

I like these. I think what the Tate quote emphasizes for me is that whether
you use "setting language on edge" or "creating metaphors" or whatever,
those means have to work.

I like the Simic quote as well. I may put all these quotes into a blog
post-(is that okay?)

more from Diane...

I guess my only point, if I have one left, is that I think it's important post-Modernism or Post Modernism, that poems make the language new (in the way Dean Young says in that quote) and that I think the avant garde or some of them or pieces of the avant garde do serve to help renew things if only by stirring things up--that I don't want to be reading the bland kind of poetry that gets its whole impact from the truth of the feelings within (because, as I've said before, I distrust that, there being noble or moving feelings everywhere from Hallmark on out) and because I want poetry to do what it can do that prose can't.

from Robert...

I'm feeling a sort of love-hate thing about blogs. I've gotten addicted to reading them, but at the same time I'm tired of reading about all the poetry wars. Part of me just wants to go to a cabin in the woods with no computer and write poems for a year or two. Not that I'd really do that.


Emily Lloyd said...

Robert--thanks for those quotes. I love them both, and missed them both, because I'm a lazy ass about reading introductions. "Cat concert."

Robert said...

Yeah, Emily, I love that cat concert. But, uh, I see I made a little typo: it's supposed to be "the official version of reality," not "the official version of realty"!

Diane K. Martin said...

Emily--Those BAPs, sometimes the introductions are the best part!

Robert--The least I could have done when I co-opted your emails is proof them, huh?