I sense a connection between the last two posts, of Jason Alexander and Frederick Seidel. To each post-author, those subjects represent a release from fear. Taking it farther, I’d say they represent a release from a fear of not being “sophisticated” enough. Even just being writers, we have to wrestle with that. Or maybe “sleek and elegant” is a better phrase. Instead of binding our lives up into careful miniatures–sometimes that’s what my poems seem like to me–we want to expand outward, fill up some of all this empty, blank space.  

It’s one of the reasons I live in Brooklyn. The sense of crappiness is useful to my progression; the shit in the street, the spraypaint on the walls, and the drooping power lines all serve to show me I’m part of a continuum. People have been expanding outward into this empty, blank space for hundreds of years. And I can SEE that with my own eyes. 

If you look at it, carefulness and precision in writing might be oriented specifically toward avoiding those drastic and risky steps that really draw the audience to the stage. Of course, it’s hard to be loud on a page. But that’s the point, I guess.  

My own writing is hard to read, even for me. This is probably because I’m so in love with the words themselves, and less with what they say. The idea of a visual painting made out of a poem is arousing to me. Unfortunately, this sort of thinking keeps me preoccupied with my own pleasure, and not the reader’s. On the other hand, there’s questionable value in seeking to know what pleases the reader, since the reader herself may not actually know. 

Question: What is the relationship of an interesting life to an interesting writer? Which springs from which: Does the life lead to the writing, or the writing to the life? Or are they unrelated…


3 responses to “connection-drawing

  1. Answer: I think they can be related, but some of my favorites are exceptions that disprove the rule. The poets of the quotidian, who herald the seasons or life in the factory or the suburbs, poets such as James Wright, or some of the Romantics, Basho — these are great poets because instead of just a good story with an interesting setting, they illustrate the perspective of interesting that is in the eye of the beholder. To me, this comes back to that Renaissance idea that the conception of the artwork is the most difficult and valuable part. When I’ve hit upon that certain connection or perspective that is the seed of a poem, I know that the rest of it is just an exercise and it will simply follow from that initial idea — even if sometimes I have to push the conception beyond itself.

    None of this gives me a reason to throw out precision in poetry, but it does widen the field of subjects suitable for poetry. Although if you want to talk about chance in poetry, that’s something else.

  2. Today’s Answer: Regarding precision in poetry… perhaps the spontaneous is also a certain type of precision, one tempered with the knowledge that capital-P Perfection is achievable only over infinite time, while a blog post can be precise with regard to the moment in which it was created, a snapshot. If we were so concerned with Perfection, we would not be blogging. (Unless Perfection is a collection of individual snapshot perfections, the way a line is a series of infinite points — whoa, dude.)

    Although I think part of our mission here on the No Record Press Blog is to elevate the discourse a bit compared to usual blog fare, neither are our words as carefully considered as an article for a periodical. The haphazard thoughts of my Gould and Gessen posts, parts one and two can attest to this. The blog format — more so than writing generally — is a battle against time, even when one isn’t trying to be timely with the content.

  3. Pingback: Personality and the Poet « No Record Press: The Blog

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