I am writing an essay--which has nothing to do with 'pink' states, nothing to do with politics. But I am writing an essay, and I am happy. I still feel this tug to write poems and continue to do so, but, lately, exploring the permutations and by-ways of other uses of language has been calling out to me. In my day job, I clean up sentences for other people, tidy, straighten, do a chiropractic adjustment of grammar and punctuation. I standardize, putting all the sentences in similar tonal outfits. I make thoughts appear professional and serious.
This can be entertaining, but it can also be dull. Exploring the way rhetorically neutral sentences are put together (yes! we are non-partisan) leads inevitably to a fascination with finding the pressure points of sentences: their soft spots, their fault lines. And to a fascination with making boring sentences interesting. If possible, and it is not always possible.
Is poetry a matter of the sentence or the line? It depends, perhaps, on how you define 'sentence.' Is a sentence a grammatically complete thought? A unit of speech with syntactical integrity? Is a verbal construction that bends and twists Strunk & White or takes liberty with syntax a sentence? If the action of a sentence is to enlarge a thought, yet draw it to a close, can a sentence resist closure the way a line can? What does a line do? It breaks, it suspends. Quite possibly it signals the possibility of rhyme. Must it, by design, flout the expectations of a sentence? Or must it conform?
I am writing an essay, and I am happy. I am trying to figure out what else a sentence can do, or what happens if the line is taken out of play. Is poetry as an act of utterance limitless? Or are there limits to what a poem can express? If a poem relies on a reader's expectation of what a poem should or could be, then, it seems, there are limits. But if an essay (with its unit the sentence, rather than the line) can lull a reader into a false sense of complacency or acceptance, then perhaps it can be a more open structure than a poem.
Digressive narrative. That is what I am thinking as I am writing my essay. And that's something that I learned from a poet.
I am writing my essay, and I am happy because it has nothing to do with politics, which will, of necessity, have a finale and an end, one of two options. False dichotomy, my lit grad school advisory might have said--but he said that about so much. False dichotomy.