Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I was reading something, somewhere--I thought it was a poem, but now I can't find it among the things I've been reading--that had a line in it about people being broken, having a mark drawn on the broken part, but being stronger at that place. It's all in the wording, and of course I don't have that right now.

Familiar sentiment, though, or it strikes home, about being stronger at the broken place.

Because I am not writing at the moment (because I can't quite get the world to stop spinning just yet, and still more things keep it spinning), I am thinking a lot about What Poetry Is. And What Makes a Poem. Are these good thoughts to have? I'm not so sure. Some people I know would say, that kind of thought is just an excuse for not writing. And they might be correct.

A poem is the spin (residual, extended, jet stream) of some type of energy. The musculature of the poem needs to follow the torque of the type of energy. So the lines might be short or long, or dense or knotty or fluid or languorous. The syntax might be sharp & broken, or it might be crisp & militaristic, or jack-knifed, or regular, or relaxed & branching. The sound and tonal patterns might be layered, dense, crystalline, clear, top-note melodic, or symphonic.

I like to write when I feel happy--all sorts of energies well up then--and I don't like to write much when I feel down or distracted.

Over the last several years, I've been exploring all kinds of adventurous, radical writing, but lately, as with the Yeats, I find myself thinking of more traditional stuff--don't know why. I've always liked these lines from Henry Vaughn's "The Retreat":

But felt through all this fleshly dresse
Bright shootes of everlastingnesse.

Vaughn is talking about spiritual matters, about death and rebirth, the relationship between the soul and the body. But those lines seem to me an apt description of what energy, writing energy, feels like.

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