Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Papa and Liza

Talk about guilty pleasures! Not only was I watching Inside the Actors Studio, but I was watching Liza Minnelli on Inside the Actors Studio. Liza (with a Z) had some ideas of possible relevance to poetry. She said when she prepares for a concert, she puts together a book with the song lyrics on one side and notes on the other. She writes notes about why the person is singing the song, and includes details like “the color of the rug on the floor” where she’s singing. She said the secret of great singers is that they have a secret. While they’re singing they keep in mind a secret that the character singing has but that is not revealed in the lyrics.

This sounds like Hemingway in A Moveable Feast:

It was a very simple story called “Out of Season” and I had omitted the real end of it which was that the old man hanged himself. This was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.

When I stopped writing I did not want to leave the river where I could see the trout in the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. The story was about coming back from the war but there was no mention of the war in it.

I am intensely interested in the idea of lyric poetry not as poetry that has no story, but as poetry in which the story is a secret. In fact I’ve been stuck on a poem recently and this may just offer a way out. I’ve got a secret!


Diane K. Martin said...

I like this idea a lot too, given, as you said, that you know the secret--which would give everything integrity.

Beverly said...

Yes, it's different from the kind of poem where you sense something's been left out that the poet doesn't even know-- a void rather than a secret.