Saturday, October 30, 2004
there are a few writers, Guy Davenport and Flann O'Brien come to mind, who write like angels (as Johnson said of Goldsmith, I believe). who make good sentences. I envy that, but I think I have some craft that way, too. I have studied prose, thought about it, practiced it. more maybe than I have poetry, or at least in some sense I have. two different things, tho. poetry is a category of meaning, or implication of meaning, while prose is what, a structure or technique. poetry is largely a definition of what we're trying to do, kind of personal and not the stuff to make rules about. prose is a guided journey and conduit. or that's how I approach. Silliman speaking of sentences excites me, because I trust my knowledge and/or ability to write in sentences. I grok the import of what he says. I feel equal to the discussion. I reiterate that I don't feel I attain the suppleness and richness of the prose of the aforementioned, but I'm not a supple or rich (er) person. Pound assailed poorly writ poetry, and could continue to do so today. the expert grease monkeys of the poetry world should take their parse-o-metres to Henry Gould's poetry, for he has an excellent ear for sentence, as well as metre and rhyme. I've read a little of James Merrill's ouija poem, found it way too precious, but I credit his command of versification. (whereas our pomo freinds, Creeley, Olson, and many others, Ginsberg too, totally embarass themselves flailing within rhyme/metre structure). what got me is how that versification really just got in Merrill's way, and all his ouija thrills would have been MUCH better recounted in prose. but the dullards said, hey it's poetry-like, and that was that. just as Henry's poetry is mainstream-like, and somebody else's is Language-like. like a poet is so by virtue of what school one attended or bar one hangs at. it pleases me that Silliman writes of technical matters, for that's the real stuff. theory becomes latter day baloney wielded in crass battles for audience share. I mean, when the theory gets the headline. fuck Derrida and Wittgenstein if you can't write a decent sentence. they could. Silliman's talking my language when he ranges in with how he sees sentences working for him. I don't care about post-modern. post-modern never bought me a beer or invited me to dinner. I care about sentences. I think I speak them, and generally write them. I like to get out of the way of the magic stuff, when theory waves its wand.