Sunday, October 08, 2006


JH: Poetry "is the vast question mark addressed to language" - yes! A glyph attached to words, confronting words - words on one end and indefinable space on the other end. Perhaps a poet can push through the glyph and write on that blank space, but that doesn't change the depth, only the surface. To add to a surface would create more depth, would it not? Then again, to hover above a surface a few inches or many miles would alter the depth perceptually. Does the work of the poet consist in burying deeper what is in the depths? To further conceal (that is, to add more weight to what covers the depths) or to pile the depth higher, this is the work of the poet? Poetry may want to obscure human depths or human perception of depths in order to bring more attention to itself. Narrative has come a long way in obscuring things - religion, politics, science, social mores, and complicated emotions have evolved much by means of rhetoric, fictional story (fables, theatre, film), history, popular words and phrases, and writing. Poetry partakes of narrative, and may have been the first means of sustained narrative (or so poetry would have us believe). Poetry is something that evolves alongside, and not with, language. Does poetry reside in communication, or does it need the space that language provides? "Stop!" or "Come here" have no poetry outside of a description of context (and any given description does not necessarily make poetry).

AHB: the question of poetry as communication is a tough one. in one sense, poetry is so mysterious and personal that to say it communicates it to overstate the process. but poetry makes a place, and shares it, and that sharing is communication. there is an aesthetic of poetry, and all the arts, really, that urges statement, recapitulation, copy. I think of the sort of passage from a novel that one might quote, consisting of lush (overblown) descriptors—so beautiful!--but that's just simplification. the arts challenge context, maybe. green is just green until applied exactingly, and so too with every word. poetry certainly is an artform in which every word had ought to have that necessity, whereas plays and novels probably don't (and by this definition, Finnegans Wake might be a poem, but I don't really care to work he taxonomic register right now). the idea that narrative obscures is well charged. narrative suggests a simple linear path, yet that path is layered. we know that Moby Dick is about a whale hunt, and we ALSO know it is about Ahab's path of self-destruction, his monomania, and all the other things critics ave said. the narrative is never just one such path. I think of my own writing as much to do with narrative, partly because I use often sentences, which themselves suggest a narrative development, also because of the inter-collisions I employ. those inter-collisions include humour, sadness, anger, the way they bundle. they also include the combination of low and high that exists in my writing. even writing more disjointed than mine presumes a narrative, if you think of a rope cut up, the rope's length is still implied (Baudelaire said something similar in his intro to his Poèmes en Prose, tho he spoke of a snake).


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