Thursday, January 05, 2006


JH: A poem is a net that catches material to make it a larger net. Some of the weave of the net is more eye- (and ear-) catching than other weaves. These areas of the net are what is often held out foremost for fishing. Most of what is caught is regulated to the back of the net instead of being added to the main weaves. Many fishers study these back area weaves as intently as what is in the front of the net - after all, much of what is caught is weighty enough to be able to shift to the back. Some are airy enough to hang near the front, some of these Ariels threatening to escape, some content to play in the foyer. There's not a whole lot of agreement as to what the main weave is these days, which I like. Are poets part of the net? Was the net once human? I think poets are part of the net, because, to me, the written is what remains. Do old photographs, which also remain, partake of the poetic? Are they more poetic than quotidian prose documents? Such documents can be placed in a poem, but old photographs can stand alone - yet archaic
language is strange enough to stand as Literature rather than simple literature. Words plus time equals poetry? And, if old photographs partake of the poetic, how old do they have to be? Aren't they instantly poetic, being instantly archaic? Moments fly away immediately, but language conventions stick around a while.

AHB: I feel, and perhaps have long felt, that words like poem and poetry are irascible terms that get in the way more than anything. one of the stupider critical debates, and also one of the most common, circles around what a poem is. which devolves to labels, which devolves to totally missing the point, or at least the energy exchange. energy exchange, heck yeah! I just read a quick bio of Chaucer, as well as some of his work. his most ordinary statements are made strange becauee of the archaic spellings and constructions that modern readers can recognize as English but not feel comfortable about. which really isn't his intent (tho that he chose to write in English rather than French or Latin was a recognition of the possibilities inherent). Cummings (another bio I recently read) scuffed up poetic language, and Stein of course. when a crabby critic like Joan Houlihan scores points aginst LANGUAGE poetry, an extensive monolith in her eyes, she's just arguing for safety. the excitement is in the difficulties. I don't mean that obfuscation = poetry, but that the work that one must wrassle with probably has the most wortth. for instance, zen koans are simple enough in statement, but people (not me, admittedly) spend years working on them. I'm experimenting quite a bit now, I guess because I've felt the safety. posting to listservs and blogs is a way to feel less safe. how about you?


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