Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A really perfect poem

A really perfect poem has an infinitely small vocabulary. -- Jack Spicer

5 comments:

Joseph Hutchison said...

Spicer was a master at sounding profound while saying next to nothing of value. This quote is yet another example.

Anonymous said...

That's probably true, Joseph, of his "criticism" in the Vancouver Lectures.

But not of his poetry.

Kent

Don Share said...

I dunno, I got quite a lot out of Spicer's lectures, published in book form as The House That Jack Built - which were, in fact, more informal talks and readings than anything else. I wouldn't say that his impromptu attempts at profundity are worse in any way than those of other poets whose talks have been transcribed. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Well, I should have put it better than that! (Glancing at it, I hadn't really registered the sarcastic quality of Joseph's comment.) My response sounded like I think there's nothing of value in the talks, which is hardly my position, longtime Spicer fan that I am. There's lots of great, tantalizing stuff-- impromptu, often rambling, and touched by the drink as it is. No doubt if Spicer had edited the texts himself for publication, something more coherent would have resulted. Same could be said for Olson's drugged Berkeley lecture, obviously.

Then again, maybe one wouldn't want such editing of the extemporaneous, which provides its own kind of valuable document. We wouldn't want that of Olson's lecture, certainly, since we have a fairly large, more "deliberate" body of critical work to supplement and illuminate the stream of consciousness there. But we don't have such an archive with Spicer, even though the poetics are insistently present (quite literally, in the case of After Lorca) in the poetry. Wish he'd sat down to write more of it. Or to have more of it sent to him, from wherever...

Kent

Joseph Hutchison said...

You're right that there's a profound difference between Spicer's poetry—about 1/4 of which I go back to off and on—and his pronouncements. I just never saw the "great, tantalizing stuff" in his ramblings, though I admit to giving up on The House that Jack Built after "Dictation and 'A Textbook of Poetry'," with its mix of semi-erudition and dippy faux mysticism, a kind of intellectualized vaudeville. But that's just me. Others clearly find his ideas important, and who's to say that they're wrong?