thoughts and theory on poetry, on its place and process and purpose
[title from an interview with Rebecca Lindenberg]
Who knows anyway what it is, that wild, silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live?
"In a time of violence, the task of poetry is in some way to reconcile us to our world and to allow us a measure of tenderness and grace with which to exist. I believe this very deeply, and I see it as an effort to enter into the complications of the moment, even if they are violent; but through that, in some measure, poetry's task is to reconcile us to the world— not to accept it at face value or to assent to things that are wrong, but to reconcile one in a larger sense, to return us in love, the province of imagination, to the scope of our mortal lives."
— Meena Alexander, from What Use is Poetry
“…in the fractures, blanks and discontinuities within a text – in writing’s undercurrent, or in what the poet Claudia Rankine terms the ‘underneath-ness’ of language, where it is possible, she suggests, to stage ‘silence’. “
— excerpt from Susan Morris’ essay “Twenty Years of Boredom”
“What is an alphabet but a way to give sounds little bodies? What is writing but the preservation of ghosts?”
— Cameron Awkward-Rich, “Essay on the Appearance of Ghosts,” from Sympathetic Little Monster
Well, poetry holds — it’s like a — you can hold what can’t be said. It can’t be paraphrased. It can’t be translated. The great poetry I love holds the mystery of on being alive. It holds it in a kind of basket of words that feels inevitable. There’s great, great, great prose, gorgeous prose. You and I could probably quote some right now. Poetry has a kind of trancelike quality still. It has the quality of a spell still.
The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person. (Czeslaw Milosz, "Arts Poetica?) (p. 71)
“Poetry is the first language I was thinking in—it’s what I fall back on,” she says. “I have to get really close to the bone of what I’m going through. A poem doesn’t let me lie to myself.”