Friday, June 11, 2004

Okay, I'm not going to harp on this craft and content thing 'cause when push comes to shove it's not all that important of a question to me, but I will say one last thing: the thing is, a subject not worth one's time treated in a brilliant manner seems like wasted talent (what if Einstein had spent his life working to develop the perfect toaster? yeah, I do like toast, but come on...).

As for the notion that writing poetry is a political act, I have a relatively different take than yr old teacher (& frankly I'm not sure I entirely understand the whole inclusion / exclusion jazz -- sounds like hyper-aware cultural criticism, not politics). The choice to spend one's time and creative energy on such a negligible activity is, as far as I'm concerned, somewhat of a rebellious act, a rejection of not only the productive, practical American work ethic, but also of the linear use-value logic implicit in almost all other professional choices. Of course poems can be productive, practicle and useful, but before that they are sort of like time warps in language--once you go down this chute, the pure functional value of thinking and feeling as dictated by human language goes out the window. In these verbal warps we are explicitly not contributing to systems which promote the lie of 'progress' and common sense. At least I like to think the poetic imagination escapes the trajectory of use-value.

I think I might have more to say on this, but I'm working off a rough morning (compliments of Chad and 2 dollar tall-boy PBRs!), so my practical mechanism ain't firing on all cylinders.

Does any of this make sense?

Komunyaaka has always impressed me for his ability to construct such tight, crushing poems out of what might otherwise be disastrously sappy material (can you imagine Sharon Olds with the same material!), but that example makes me think we're not talking about the same thing. I think that's eminently significant content...


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