Sunday, March 19, 2006

Vocative

We've been struggling with the eye gaze communicator now for about 10 days. We've had to take Robert off one of his medications to bring his pupil size down so that the computer can reliably calibrate for him. And then there's the struggle of getting him to go through the calibration process, which for a kid is, frankly, not all that interesting. Roger finally got him calibrated today, so he's in!!! It's still going to be a lot of work, but I feel better that we're actually making some progress, small though that may be.

My poems have come out in Colorado Review, which is very exciting. The New Hampshire Review itself was exciting, but, somehow, seeing your poems in an actual paper journal feels even more real. The poem in New Hampshire Review will be up for the next 5-6 months, for anyone who is interested. I don't know yet if Colorado Review will feature either of my poems online--they still have the last issue up on their website. Hard to say.

I feel very burned out with writing right now. It's not as though I haven't been writing--I have. And I like some of the stuff I've turned out. It's just more of an effort.

And I find my thoughts turning more and more to the 'what is poetry' question, which I think is not particularly productive. Hop on the hermenutic circle and ride round and round.

Poetry has been a lot of different things to me over time. I've been writing poems since I was in first or second grade. My first publication was actually in Cricket magazine--something about a dog and a cat sitting inside watching the goings-on outside. It rhymed. It was rhythmic. It may even have had meter, although I don't know that I was aware of what that was at the time.

As I grew older and got into high school, poetry was more about elevating a situation into a sort of linguistic musicality, layering it with descriptive shadings that created distinctive (or so I thought, at any rate) signifiers or turns of phrase. Poetry also started to develop an abstractness in high school; that is, I found myself speaking of situations that had nothing to do with my life--I suppose a fictitiousness is what I mean, or a means of accessing a world beyond experience.

In college, things started to come together in terms of shaping and guiding the utterance. And then I went to grad school and the expression of poetry stopped for a while. There was only the reception.

For me, now, I'm not sure what poetry is. It's an utterance with a certain insistence, I guess. It's something that must be articulated, is pressing to be articulated. And once articulated, needs to be shaped and designed. The form of the utterance is not something imposed from outside, but the key to it is within the utterance itself. As an utterance, the language might take many forms, or it might or might not come into being through figures.

And when my mind is distracted, there is little of the insistence pressing on my consciousness and subconscious. Vocative. I like the vocative O. Very much. That seems to be my personal symbol for poetry: the O--the opening of the mouth in forming utterance. This is what I want for Robert: to be able to issue his own thoughts, to tap into the power of the vocative.

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