Thursday, March 15, 2012

[Poetry] Aligning with Time and Space

In the March/April issue of the American Poetry Review, one of the featured articles is "Why Write, If Not to Align Yourself with Time and Space?". It veers into a bit of navel-gazing and esoterica, but overall there are some questions that can be of significance for speculative poets, who I feel should be no less rigorous in their poetic practice as any other poet. The article opens up:

Hovering in the brain-space of readers, writers, editors, teachers, artists, students, and thinkers of all kinds is the idea that books, literary magazines, and even newspapers are on a steady course toward obsolescence. Poets, in particular, harbor suspicions that theirs is a largely unappreciated profession, and sometimes this appears to be true. But why might this be the case? Can we trace the problem back to the would-be readers, to the writers, to language? In the fall of 2010, prompted by Hannah Gamble, poets Timothy Donnelly, Ange Mlinko, and Matther Zapruder, along with fiction writer Steve Almond, exchanged emails about their early ideas of good and bad writing, what you need to know to be a poet, whether or not there are different rules for poetry and prose, and what airports can teach us about being writers and being human.

There are some interesting remarks of value for us. Mlinko notes that to her, "The language of poetry always has to reach beyond what language is normally called upon to do."   Mlinko's remarks resonated the most with me throughout the article, although each had some great thoughts on their own experiences and what they discovered along the way. 

The title of the article is derived from Fanny Howe's remark "Why write if not to align yourself with time and space? Better to wash the bottoms of the ill or dying." Mlinko felt that writing poetry wasn't about "feeling more deeply, or the privilege of talking with people poems and life" but "propitiation and thanksgiving, which is bound up with rehearsing a perfection in art that you can't have in life."  

Be sure to check it out if you get a chance.

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