Thursday, March 05, 2009
Steve Tills comments on my reaction to Elizabeth Willis' intro to Lisa Robertson, below. I should say that when I make bold statements, I imply, and you should infer, a question mark. as in, in this instance, is Willis' intro as disturbing as I think it is? that would require you (Dear Reader) to go to iTunes and download the podcast. I have read Willis' poetry, and like it, but I wonder why poetry should be transmuted into an academic quandary of code. poetry itself is a code, but the key is, poetry's code is immediacy. words in poetry are leaping life. Emerson was right enough that every word was, initially, a poem, an exalted expression of the world's experience. trapping poetry in a dialectic of segregated meaning is distressing. I wish others would listen to Willis and tell me how far off the mark I may be. as I said earlier, what she says is not meaningless. her words just seemed to have a push away, as if poetry were an Arcanum. it may be. when pressed, I have told people that I wrote poetry, which often seems to amount to admitting that I do weird, if not quite criminal, things. that is a sad encroachment. Robert Grenier did not speak in an involved haze, in the classes I took with him, but in the realm of personal (his) experience. school should not change that. but maybe I am prickly on this point, and unfair to Elizabeth Willis. does poetry need to be an isolation? maybe so, that is largely my experience. I gravitated to writing poetry because the field was open. I did not know what poetry was, so I could make up the necessities. the necessities flowed in and out. writing is a directive, and impetus toward confirmation. sorry if I compelled sleepiness with that sentence. one writes as an act of discovery. that would imply a personal language. the stutter of writers like Olson or Creeley, or Dickinson--look at her work--is instructive, a revelation in speech. speech is active. poetry is an active moment in language. it will not be rightly described by stalled words. I acknowledge my ignorance and my resistance in these matters, because poetry is not, after all, not easy or easily quantifiable.