18 may. 2005

I've been very unfair, reading so much poetry, more than my fair shair. I should leave some for the rest of you, and done inestimable damage to my mental health. I promise to stop reading poetry that I don't really have to for my professional responsibilities and to be polite to my poet friends. I could read maybe one book every two months, or read only one or two poems of each book. I should give up the illusion that the secret of poetry is somehow available to me, if I only could find the 100 most significant poets and read their works until I understood the secret of each one. My actiivity seems all out of proportion, almost fetishistic in its obsessiveness. I try to justify myself with that Kenneth Koch line about total absorption in poetry being fairly benign. I'm not sure that's the case.


3 comentarios:

Tony dijo...

Actually, Jonathan, he says that "total absorption in poetry is one of the finest things in existence--"

Far from "fairly benign."

Jonathan dijo...

Yes, you're right, he goes on to say:

"It should not make you feel guilty. Everyone is absorbed in something
The sailor is absorbed in the sea. Poetry is the mediation of life."

Nick Piombino dijo...


I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a
high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a
flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid
to discriminate against 'business documents and
school-books'; all these phenomena are important. One must
make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
'literalists of
the imagination'--above
insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them', shall
we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.
Marianne Moore