Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Originality" is an empty goal...

From Mark Scroggins' The Poem of a Life, the Zukofsky bio, on LZ's sense of what poetry was, ca. the birth of his son, Paul:

"[For Zukofsky] Poetry is an art that enables one to live in one's own moment, and simultaneously an art of memory: 'without poetry,' Zukofsky writes, 'life would have little present. To write poems is not enough if they do not keep the life that has gone. To write poems may never seem enough when they speak of a life that has gone.' [...] Even when silent, the poet is not idle, 'but secretly measures himself against each word of poetry ever written. Furthermore, if he is of constant depth, he thinks of others who have lived, live, and will live to say the things he cannot say for the time being. People who do this are always working.' Every poem it is possible to write has been preceded by a myriad of poems and will be followed by another myriad, will take its place among those poems and be judged in comparison with them. 'Originality,' then, is an empty goal..." (p. 226)

Feel free to discuss...

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Discuss, huh... isn't that what we are always saying -- it's the living that's the thing. Maybe the pursuit of originality is just like the pursuit of any other unattainable love -- just distracts us from the grind of it all -- just keeps us from remembering failure for now...