Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Political Theory of Poetics

To be honest, there are times when I read these scholarly pontifications on poetry and I just want to burn everything I’ve ever written and just work harder on some mindless job until I fall asleep before the numbing noise of some television show knowing that the last thing anyone will ever be able to say about me is “what a mediocrity!”

But sooner or later I’ll catch a glimpse of something elemental in the corner of my eye and know that’s it! I need to write this down in the best way I know how to and damn the consequences of all opinion (or lack of it usually in my case).

I have a suspicion most poets begin to write towards that same effect. But then they run for office, or in this case, publication, feeling the need for public service and/or servicing. And become for all intents and purposes, politicians. And then those media whores, the literary critics, have at them. It's a blood bath for sure.

3 comments:

Dr J said...

Well, hopefully we aren't all media whores, though I more than surely grasp the validity of the generalization. Good poetry deserves to be held up like a laurel wreath so people not immediate to it can see its value, its beauty, and at least a glimmer of its intricacy (and which hopefully encourages others to want to get a nearer look). There's a difference, I think, between criticism and punditry, though it's a distinction I afraid most no longer (or seldom) bother to make.

As for the creative impulse, I agree, though it reminds me of Beckett's famous assertion that there's no such thing as a finished poem, but just one that we let go, one that we feel, rightly or wrongly, can survive those gall-darned slings & arrows and still articulate some kind of truth, though I surely don't mean that in some pristine way. It's more like Plath's black rook, raising our eyes to some beauty within the gloom, even the ordering of feathers. (Or the ordering of ice-cream.)

As for the bloodbath: you may be right (write?), but I'm reminded of Northrop Frye's analogy, that perhaps such things aren't necessarily abbatoirs but Valhallas; maybe they ground us to remember what not just what persists but what sustains.

Cheers, Greg.

Dave said...

Good poetry deserves to be held up like a laurel wreath so people not immediate to it can see its value, its beauty, and at least a glimmer of its intricacyOh Lord. I'm afraid I tend to take almost the opposite tack. If you rea Spanish, Jimenez made the case for 'naked poetry' with these lines:

Vino, primero, pura,
vestida de inocencia.
Y la amé como un niño.

Luego se fue vistiendo
de no sé qué ropajes.
Y la fui odiando, sin saberlo.
Llegó a ser una reina,
fastuosa de tesoros...
¡Qué iracunda de él y sin sentido!

...Mas se fue desnudando.
Y yo le sonreía.

Se quedó con la túnica
de su inocencia antigua.
Creí de nuevo en ella.

Y se quitó la túnica,
y apareció desnuda toda...
¡Oh pasión de mi vida, poesía
desnuda, mía para siempre!

Greg said...

Dr J: media whores and virgins as well. Dave, no Spanish unfortunately read here.