Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Poetry & Therapy & Therapy & a Boiling something or other

Mostly I am worn out from getting my last packet in for my MFA program. That was yesterday. Am feeling puzzled about my own work lately, and hoping that my advisor can explain me to myself, although I doubt that that is likely.

A lot of lyric stuff recently, and nothing traditional about that, either. A flow of language and sound that has its own aural logic, that is, rhythm, sounds, etc. This is the part that I would call stable: there's a sound-stability to the work. But then the syntax, especially, and sometimes the diction are less than stable--I've been writing mostly without punctuation, but working the lines so that they can be read without stumbling. Mostly this is successful. Or so I think. So the syntax and the diction are unstable, and there is a pleasing tension between what is stable and what is unstable in the poem. Or so I think.

It's not as though the pieces are resistent to meaning, or that they don't make some kind of 'sense' out of themselves. I think that what really makes them tensile, that gives push and pull to the poems, is the emotional content. I've tried to make the temperature of these much, much warmer. Whereas much the temp of much poetry is much, much cooler--as though cooling something down is the only way to present it.

What Wordsworth says in the preface to Lyrical Ballads is that poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. But to recollect something in tranquillity, as opposed to the overwhelming emotions of the moment, is not necessarily to recollect it and then represent it as something cool to the touch. It is not, say I, adding ice to the soup and serving it lukewarm because otherwise it is too hot to eat. Recollecting something in tranquillity really means, I say, to recollect something when you are in a position to understand it, when your understanding and your rational faculties are in a place where you can examine said incident, etc., and not be sucked down into pure emotionalism. But that doesn't mean you have to then represent the incident as antipasto freddo.

There is no especial virtue in being able to represent the world or aspects of it in a poem with detachment for the sake of detachment and sang froid. Otherwise we'd all be Brits. Detachment for detachment's sake just means you've had way too much therapy, buddy.

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