14 may. 2003

When I'm writing in Spanish I really do feel that I am not consciously choosing words, that they are choosing me. I write when an idea pops into my head, then I listen for a while to see what else the poem wants to say. I do consciously pick and choose among the ideas that occur to me, but most of the process feels like listening.

This observation is probably fairly banal, in that a large number of poets write in this way. What interests me is that I feel this much more strongly in Spanish than in English. The voice of dictation is stronger for some reason. That is why I am writing more and more in Spanish--it isn't because I actually write better in Spanish. I also am able to manipulate the language in a way that wouldn't occur to me in English.

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1/ The poet as some anonymous bodiless creator of texts, about whom the less known the better.

2/The poet as character, a poetic persona who is the speaker of the actual poems. Frank O'Hara as flâneur, museum curator, and friend to other poets and painters.

3/The poet as author, susceptible to biographical and psychological interpretations.

Number 1 doesn't seem too interesting. We have to ask ourselves why we are reading poetry in the first place; many people wouldn't be too interested in Frank O'Hara's poems without the accompanying persona, for example.

Number 3: if we have the information the urge is to use it. We do this in real life if we actually know the poets personally, as Nada has pointed out. On the other hand, biographical information is often offered to us in place of critical insight. How come biographies of writers don't tend to include much critical insight into their work (huge, unjustified generalization)?