Thursday, July 16, 2009

There's no such thing as a fish, there are only kinds of fish

Speaking of schools of poetry...

Is it true, as the soon-to-be-famous writer Sarah Palin says, "only dead fish go with the flow?"

Click here to find out!

("Don't know what the future holds. / I'm not gonna shut any door. / That -- who knows what doors open. / I can't predict what the next fish run's gonna look like / down on the Nushagak.")

"... American critics and poet-critics and just plain poets (or not) attempt to confect silly sounding schools out of wan spats with the self and then tell us that if you didn’t get it the first time it’s because you didn’t fill in your own meaning..."

When men talk of “the only valid position,” when old insistences of the true poet, or the genuine feeling, or the right way, the real meaning, arise, my heart shrinks against the assault; and it is unwillingly that I suspend the guarantee they protest and go on to follow their revelation. Altho it does not seem now to have been very heroic, it is perhaps a trace of the cost of my coming to recognize my weaknesses or my contradictions or my unrequited fumblings as quite genuine, that I wince at the efforts of an intense morality to hold out against the evident many other intense moralities however informd in the world. -- Robert Duncan

Because I am an innovator in my field, some people keep on shouting that I'm a formalist. They do not find the old forms in my work, and worse, they find new ones, and then they infer that it is the forms that interest me, but I have discovered that I'm rather inclined to deprecate the formal element. I have studied the old forms of poetry, story-telling, drama and theatre at various times and only given them up when they stood in the way of what I wanted to say. -- Bertolt Brecht

It is part of our cultural deprivation that whole ranges of human consciousness have fallen into a privatized self. The failure to know modern art and the current retreat from it further displace and sentimentalize the past. The contemporary artist, then, hasn't a chance of being understood by a large public, because his or hers is an imagination in dialogue with the triumphs and faults of modernism. -- Robin Blaser, ca. 1986


Jordan said...

I've been look for a pair of wan spats, actually, to go with my bleak tuxedo.

Henry Gould said...

The vanity of editors : the self-esteem deriving from "openness", eclecticism, the big tent. It's a self-esteem based on self-interest : every issue of the magazine displays a supermarket variety of wares - something for everybody!

The artist can't always afford to be so diversified - anyway, it's always a struggle.

Something from a comment I posted oveer at Martin Earl's recent Harriet post :

"As I understand poetry, the compositional process itself enfolds both blueprint & the element of surprise. We need to return to a sense of poetry as a kind of superior harmony - a kind of singing-speech which effects the reader on a measurably more refined & intense plane than anything “outside” its own harmonic world. The poem should offer the powerful shock of beauty (maybe as Aristotle understood catharsis) : & not just the knowing pleasantries & sophistries & all that jaded guile."

Henry Gould said...

...but my apologies for crabby tone. It's been a long week here in ol' Goul-world.

Don Share said...

On diversification:

"Men do mightily wrong themselves when they refuse to be present in all ages: and neglect to see the beauty of all kingdoms, and despise the resentments of every soul..."


Henry Gould said...


that's basic magnanimity... ethics & wisdom... simple piety, I reckon. & I believe it too.

But I'm going to stick with my mingy crab-apple stand : that not all the stuff out there being promoted as poetry, is actually poetry. & the professional Establishment or House we have erected for Poetry in this country has these over-size McMansion add-ons... & I would rather be outside, I guess.