Monday, May 15, 2006

Experiencing Reading/Writing The Long Poem

Thanks to Erin Moure, who last year suggested that I write "friends" for my poems, and who lead me toward reading long poems, I'm presently reading Sharon Thesen's 2001 The New Long Poem Anthology which includes such wonders as Anne Carson's "The Glass Essay" and Jeff Derksen's "Interface." These two long poems are the beginning of a change in my poetic sensibility. What were once skimpy little lyrics (apologies, older poems...) are evolving into pages of startling material. Writing in this form is teaching me about the end. Thesen points out " is easy to see how both the resistance to end and the desire to continue [...] are the essential experiences of life itself." The end can be anywhere, but if I keep pushing it off (in poetry we can choose to push off the end) I'm contstantly surprised.

Derksen's "ruptures" (Butling & Rudy, Poets Talk) are stunning and hilarious. He proclaims to be "not interested in narratives" which leads me to draw a parallel between his "Interface" and the ghazal form (John Thompson-style) with its own leaps from one metaphor to another and its disregard for story. We really are trained toward narrative, however. Even with total disregard for "story" a seemingly or supposed random selection of words or metaphors will enter my mind only to be arranged together like a recipe. Are we capable of not putting details together in a narrative?


At 9:31 AM, Blogger heatherNC said...

Great question! I agree with you. I don't think we instinctually put things in a narrative form, but I think we are conditioned to do so. Don't we initially see things as self-contained (and unconnected) images? . . . meaning and connections come later.

Interesting stuff.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger kaleidoscope said...

Silly humans, always filling in the blanks. I never thought about instinctual narrative tendencies. I do remember someone once pointing out that the whole gamut of education was to build and bridge connections between things that we otherwise might not notice. And I liked that notion at the time. But now, I'm thinking that we make up a lot of the stuff that we teach, even what we learn we make up. But I like stories...

At 12:21 PM, Blogger heatherNC said...

Yes, the notion that we make up a lot of the stuff that we teach was what gave me some trepidation after leaving my last teaching position.

I have since re-thought my trepidation (is it possible to rethink trepidation?) and am now planning on going back into teaching (at least for awhile). Go figure. :-)


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