Quoets for Poets: audience?

“Never use the word ‘audience.’ The very idea of a public, unless a poet is writing for money, seems wrong to me. Poets don’t have an “audience”: They’re talking to a single person all the time.”
–Robert Graves, from the Paris Review, The Art of Poetry No. 11

Quoets for Poets: 8/8/13

(Many thanks to KB and Tiffany for showing me where to go with this one.  It’s not their fault I ramble so…I’m not always good at following directions…and besides, they probably had no idea…they were undoubtedly just pointing at trees or something and I, of course, said, “Yes!  That way!  Of Course!” and went crashing off into the trees…)

“What if the delight in poetic form were actually a delight in and return to infantile sensualities?”

“…we see that what is childlike and infantile lies in the form, what is adult in the content.  Content and form then make two poles, across which the magnetic energy of the poem arches.”

“The form pole pulls the poem back then toward infancy, the content pole pulls it forward into adulthood.  Adulthood seems to be the recognition that there are others in the universe besides you, greater causes and greater beings.  the poem surely needs character–the drive forward into experiences–probably embodying pain–that the infant never dreams of in his crib.”

—-Robert Bly 

…and this is why–in that arching electric zone of contact and conflict–

…and precisely where–in that very place within
where mind meets body…

“where the reader’s mind reaches toward something heard or uttered as though vocality were one of the senses.”

—-Robert Pinsky

…where mind meat’s body, where inspiration mixes into the elixir of expiration, where fantasy confronts reality, where…

“…the social realm is invoked with a special intimacy at the barely voluntary level of voice itself.”

—-Robert Pinsky

…where, in the beating of the suffering heart…

“Embarrassment–a halting consciousness of other people, the sudden barricade of social awareness, obstructing emotion and threatening to take over the mind–is in a way the most basic, irreducible manifestation of social reality.”

—-Robert Pinsky

…the blossom of suffering…

“To be thrown back “forever” on oneself alone suggests a degree of mobility, a freedom from constraint and dependence, that is potentially exhilarating as well as deranging: a liberation, as well as a void.”

—-Robert Pinsky

…becomes the creative act…

…and poetry leads to compassion…

“The path itself does not lie there waiting for you to walk along it.  It needs to be cultivated, nurtured—literally, “brought into being.”  Such a path might open up in a revealing moment of insight, only to be lost again through subsequent neglect.  To believe in a path is not enough.  One has to create and maintain it.  The practice of the eightfold path is a creative act.”

—-Stephen Batchelor

…for this path we walk…

…this path we all walk…

…is always walked alone…

…this we remember as we walk…

Quoets for Poets: 8/21/13 — Oysters, Roots, Constellations

I am often struck (dumb?…or perhaps ‘struck’ like a bell!)
by the thought that words carry with them haunting constellations of spirits,
the meanings, associations, undertones, overtones, subtle reverberations, cultural references,….

“In description words adhere to certain objects, and have the effect on the sense of oysters, or barnacles.”

–W. C. Williams

…and that these constellations, just like spirits–like ghosts–are always changing
their disposition, their demeanor, and yes their meaning and intention.

“And the good writer chooses his words for their ‘meaning’, but that meaning is not a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.”

–Ezra Pound

They go from well-intentioned to demonic in a blink of context,
a switch that can be flipped and tripped again, and yet….

“A labor no less difficult, no less phantasmagoric than alchemy.  But then, of course, the condition of the lyric is the belief in the impossible.”
–Charles Simic

…they are still just words, not even real “things” which is what perhaps makes them all the more haunting, for in their vagueness, their lack of reality…

“Words mean something because they always threaten to sound like something else.”
–James Longenbach

Quoets for Poets: 8/8/13

“A sculptor works with substances that his audience may never have touched; a musician plays an instrument that his listeners have never mastered.  But a poet uses the same words that hundreds of millions of people use every day to marry, fight, console themselves, entertain, grieve, and order cheeseburgers.”

—David Orr

“You don’t make a poem with ideas, but with words.”

—Stephane Malarme

Quoets for Poets 7/24/13

…plus rambles from a Crabby John…
…since I haven’t done this in a while…

“Poetry is the language of a state of crisis.”


Poetry is language losing itself in itself, losing itself in words.

“Similarly, Joyce suggensts that readers of Ulysses ought not to forget narrative context even when language is made to seem like nothing but sound.  Of course the seduction of sound is paramount; poetry cannot exist without it.  But we ignore the seduction of plain sense, Joyce suggests, at our own peril.  The pleasure of Ulysses is that Joyce takes neither of these seductions for granted, forcing us to become aware of the kind of work we do when making sense of any linguistic utterance.  Words mean something because they always threaten to sound like something else.”

—James Longenbach, The Art of The Poetic Line

language is an intrusion into the psyche
it is our intrusion into the world
a failure to understand where our power lies

“Dissonance / (if you are interested) / leads to discovery.”
—William Carlos Williams

this animal called language
has begun to feed on itself