Monday, December 31, 2007

what is poetry, and how does it define itself from other writing? oh, like I can answer that. I am not consumed by the reading of poetry as I used to be. much of that was a dutiful consumption, as I scouted out the territory and possibility of this manner of writing. it may be that I've always looked at poetry as and all else. poetry is what other writing is not. I fell to poetry because of this indefinition. I'm reading a book on the Gettysburg campaign (not just the battle but what led up to and followed), and it seems a correct energy for me at this time. I think defining poetry's world as different from that one we live in is a poor dalliance. there's a social construct of poetry, which is fine as a social construct, just as church is fine as a social construct. social construct is not the essence, tho. my modest peregrinations and musings, as reported on this blog, strike me as essential in some way that I feel obliged to defend. that the poetry life is not just reading poetry and attending readings. but I shall defend no further. saturday, Beth and I went to Barnes and Noble. almost didn't go in, it was tremendously crowded. we followed a family just leaving the store, in hopes of snaring their parking space. it was like we would rob them once we got to the back of the building. this B&N is a stand alone castle, and next door, essentially the same parking lot, is Chili's, also buzzing. across the street, the mall was more congested than we saw before Christmas. I know there are sales and gift cards to get people out on a surprisingly foggy afternoon. furthermore, the Patriots were to play the Giants, going for 16-0 for the season. the game surely kept a few people home saturday night. among them, me. much as I like watching football, this was only the 2nd game that I watched this season. I watched the 1st half of a blow out earlier. saturday's game was fought in high dudgeon, with the Pats going for a record. I like that Brady and Moss set NFL records on the same pass. and they came up with a Solomonic solution: Moss said cut the ball in two, Brady said keep it. funny, the year my father died, both the Sox and Pats won championships. this (past) year my dog died, which somehow in my mind tied to my father's death. my previous dog died 8 years after my mother died. I looked into the dog's eyes as she passed, could see the light go out, but also, I saw/sensed my mother. one doesn't realize how much one grieves, that the loss burns on. my father's last years were difficult as he grew more distant, ans as his care became more demanding. so that it was a relief that he died. similarly with Brownie. that would be the selfish part of me talking, I guess. when the Red Sox won in 04, it felt like some rare confluence. car horns sounded and church bells rang. my father showed only mild interest, which itself was a pain for me, for him to be that distant, finally. what I write of here is deep pool stuff, twined to the idea of writing that I carry. writing is not just about making these things that people may read. it is a participation and examination. the production of poetry as a manufacturing of things becomes a distraction from the real task. those written events and the living effort that go into them announce a process that exceeds ambition. none of us are beyond ambition, of course, but spiritual implication exists in the process, which strains and gathers thru life. Ron Silliman's grim tally of poet death's for 2007, complete with death head atop the blog post, tastes obnoxious to me. these people that did something then stopped. I don't want to collect that kind of stuff, statistics. the poet's life is written in words not numbers. quantification is a dismal exercise. so we had a quiet New Year's Eve at home. the church across the street rang, more than 12 strokes. hail the new year, lads and lasses.