Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I saw three poets read over the weekend. I was struck by the potential, or inspiration (I know that's a hefty word), that these poets offered. both Geoff Young and Nick Montfort presented the working idea of constraint, constraint as a creative possibility. Geoff utilizing the sonnet as a form to obey and disobey illustrated a canny opportunity available in the conscious attention to process. I take it that he squeezed existing poems into the sonnet constraint. his sonnets don't behave as sonnets, as he himself said, and yet they do, as he also said. his sonnets adhere to sonnet form only in being 3 1/2 quatrains in length. yet they possess sonnet grace, let us say. let me state that the idea of free verse, somewhere along the way, transmogrified into lazy verse, where poems merely consist of adjectives busying about a few nouns, in celebration of hyped up emotion. rote poem. constraints demand more effort, and not rote effort, but creative problem solving, which is what Beth says art is. rhyme and metre got tired as poets mechanically obeyed the timeworn rules. metre and thyme are exquisite when the poet actually feels involved with these elements, with the constraint that these elements offer. going thru the motions, however, adds nothing vital to a work. Whitman, when he deigned to rhyme, shows the weakness of this duty: the music of a tin ear. Dickinson, or later, Creeley, take metre and rhyme, stare them down, and wriggle free. there is a wonderful value displayed here, a historical view pushed against a futuristic one. the wrench of wondering. Whitman had no time for metre and rhyme, except that they made him Tennysonian, so he just wasted his time pretending toward such poesy. these are lessons, friends. as to Mairead, her work spoke of vantage, or persona. the Flann O'Brien wisdom of absurdity that I heard in her work is a conscious stance (I don't mean to imply that it is from O'Brien, only that it reminds me of his work), a working program. I thought, how can I stand thus. well, I cannot, really, that's Mairead, not me. but a learning possibility exists, placing questions where I hadn't thought to put them. she read ripplingly well, so that the humour and skew made imperial sense. I really liked the sense of input and influence that came from these readings.