Friday, October 13, 2006

Cooling Time

Been reading C.D. Wright's Cooling time. I actually met C.D. Wright years ago, at SF State, when she and Forrest Gander were just getting together. (I doubt she remembers.) The Associated Students were trying to close the Poetry Center, so John and I attended the hearing, said the Poetry Center was one of the reasons we came to San Francisco. People, I'm sure wondered what was in it for us, why we bothered. I'm not sure I know.

In 2004, when I was at Squaw, C.D. was one of the faculty poets. She hadn't won the MacArthur yet. More than a few people were scared of her, bothered, bewildered. She did scare me a little, though I liked her. It's always been easier for me to relate to men than to strong women.

This book though knocks me out. I could quote almost anything. I'm going to quote all that I can before I lose patience with the typing:

"I believe in a hardheaded art, an unremitting, unrepentant practice of one's own faith in the word in one's own obstinate terms... I believe the word used wrongly distorts the world...Also I think that antithetical poetries can and should coexist without crippling one another. They not only serve to define their other to a much more exacting degree than would be possible in the absence of the one or the other; they insure the persistence of heterogeneous (albeit discouragingly small) constituencies... I am not sure of where I am going...

"We come from a country that has made a fetish if not a virtue out of proving it can live without art: high, low, old, new, fat, lean, and particularly the rarely visible, nocturnal art of poetry."

"An atmosphere of depression will arouse artists' attention over an atmosphere of prosperity nearly every time. Also true, ruins are beautiful to us; blues make us feel good; it is through the wound that we perceive the body alive alive-o."

"Poetry and advertising (the basest mode of which is propaganda) are in direct and total opposition. If you do not use language you are used by it. if you do not recognize the terms peacekeeper missile and preemptive strike as oxymorons, your hole has already been dug."

" 'I think poetry must / I think it must / Stay open all night / In beautiful cellars,' [Thomas] Merton insisted. And so do I..."

"Writing is a risk and a trust. the best of it lies yonder. My linguistic skills expand on the horizon. So does the horizon. my goals are higher-minded than they once were. Once you could say, I had ambition. I never could write any old way. And like many from my generation, I desire the integrated life."

Poets are mostly voters and taxpayers, but the alienation of the poet is a common theme. Among poets there are also probably higher than average rates of clutch burnout, job turnover, rooting about, sleep apnea, noncompliance, nervous leg syndrome, depression, litigation, black clothing and so forth, but this is where we live..."

I guess that's enough for now.

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