Friday, September 14, 2007


JH: "Poetry is the realization that one reads or speaks poetry" -- is the realization in poetry? Or does poetry stand outside realization, being inconvertible? Is poetry workable, as clay and words? Words may be worked into poetry, but can poetry be worked into words? There's a theory that words are frozen poetry, dead metaphors, etc., but surely this Edenic view derives from coincidence -- words being similar to the facets of a poem. A reader unspools a poem the same way a newspaper article is unspooled, and an auditor receives a poem the same way a radio commercial is received. A poem can go unrecognized, by who would be its poet, as well as its reader/auditor: a poem, then, is not universal, even if written or spoken in a universal language; a poem is individual, integral, and incommunicative to living and dead alike. If a poem could be divided into words, a group of words could be arranged into the shape of a poem; but a poem has no shape.

AHB: Straining language beyond grunting observation is a weirdly embellished metaphysical state. Such writing lunges away from the simple noun-and-verb request for the salt shaker or query where the scissors are. Poems are made from the same material as those utterances but work (if poems work at all) entirely differently. Poetry also or often is made with a Poetic Diction, which changes with the era. I guess we simply identify a possible state called poetry that lives in the relationship of certain gathered words. As you say, a poem has no shape. Atomic particles are really lovely inferences; likewise much of what we know of outer space is supplied to us by hints and where we take those hints. Poetry, thus. Whitman eschewed rhyme and metre (and thank heavens he did, having failed his Tennyson imitations) and called it poetry. Dickinson casually and consistently broke the established poetry rules. This is old news today, we all strike paths of (what we call) invention. The point is that poetry's boundaries aren't easily marked. Our philosophical problem consists in the nature of the communication that occurs between poet and reader and poem. As I think you do, I see the poem as a character, an equal in the triad. It comes to each poet and each reader in a different way. That (whatever that was) being said, I now offer a poem that you posted to Wryting-L.

Mimicry in Ruins

Beauty is body as places, and, if I'm to believe Nature, makes Reason nakedness, there Reason's the very ruin of Mimicry, termed Eagle in the Thicket. Prince, pass, Mimicry says, yours is a suitable den, and my treasons have shrouded me past sight of Hope. Mimicry says, I would be at the side of Venus, and languish in her wake. That Mimicry termed Eagle languishes in the Thicket seems wasteful of the fox.

The diction of this poem is poetic in an old-fashioned way, except that syntax carries more modern jostle. There's some implication of language at its most high-flown, but there's something rattling about it here. I recall being wowed by Christopher Marlowe's Tamerlane for its wildly lofty poetic exclamations. As a play it is mainly an excuse for some really amped Elizabethan language. In fact, the Elizabethans are simply fat with this language called poetry. You seem to drink from a similar fount, where language is a dizzying indirection, a lovely effort to be effortless. Please speak more of your method, which I infer owes much to your involved reading.