12 may. 2011

Creeley on Sound

For me sound -- Pound's "Listen to the sound that it makes" -- has always been a crucial factor. That's why jazz back then in the mid-forties was so useful -- it let me hear ways of linking, how 'serial order' might be played, what a rhythm could literally accomplish. I wasn't getting that from the usual discussions of poetry at all. Anyhow I write and read my own poems as sounds and rhythms -- and that is a crucial part of their fact. One gets phrasing from all manner of source, people talking in the street, Frank Sinatra, and so on. Jack Kerouac is a terrific instance albeit he hardly took to the stage with any pleasure. But anyhow I write poetry to be spoken, I speak it when I write it -- like Bud Powell playing piano.

4 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Do you know what he might have meant (if it was anything specific) by "the usual discussions of poetry"? From this distance, most of what I know about the literary world he grew up into is the exceptions, Pound indeed and Poundians like Zukofsky and Bunting, from whom he quite clearly would have learned the attitude described here, and some of the models (Elizabethan lyric etc.).

Bunting (at least in the poetry) suggests that music was important for him as a model too, but naturally it was different music: the early "early music" of Dolmetsch etc., and Scarlatti.

Jonathan dijo...

I imagine he must have meant the normal academic setting of new criticism and academic poetry of the 1950s. That sort of thing. He's contrasting that to his own circle, influenced by Williams and Pound.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Fair enough. And how about the link to jazz? I suspect it wouldn't be fruitful to dig for concrete correspondences -- that the inspiration was at a fairly abstract level (informality, bohemianism, independence from top-down institutional standards) -- but I'd be interested to know whether you think there's more there.

Jonathan dijo...

Good question.

I think there's something more here than a sociological / abstract level. The jagged rhythms of bebop inspired Creeley's sense of rhythm. At least he would have claimed that, and did in fact draw those comparisons explicitly her and elsewhere. We are free to dissent from the author's own understanding, of course, but this is similar to what Coolidge sees in Kerouac, for example. As a poet I am still inspired by the phrasing of Sinatra. A singer makes the connection more directly, but the model for a horn player is always the human voice too...

Then there's the existential aspect of the jazz player as mythic figure, and those sociological factors in the white intellectual's identification with the jazz musician as alienated, marginalized figure. I'm not discounting that either. Creeley would insist always, on the fact of the thing, the specificity, and would resist the idea that jazz is merely an abstract influence. Notice how he uses the word "fact" here for example.