Friday, June 26, 2009

The Poet As Conjurer

If a poet qualifies his poem saying that he just wrote it starting in the shower this morning then worked on it on the back of a napkin at MacDonald's and finished it in the dust on his dashboard the chances are he's actually been working on it for months.

If he announces that he does his writing at mid-night over a six-pack he probably writes at noon over a glass of milk

It's all part of myth-making at the expense of the literal Maybe another way of saying that what passes for truth is part of convention; an agreed-upon lie. And convention exists within those margins which we rail against or at least challenge. Poetry is subversive. It assumes what the collective sees and says consider this instead.

The poem also overthrows the order with its misbehaving syntax, lack of punctuation or phrases that are not quite sentences or even invented language.

I happily lie in the poem as a way of getting to an emotional truth. I write about sneaking into a Saturday matinee movie through the side door in order to feel like one of the Dead-End Kids on the screen or speak of the usher's flashlight as if it were the searchlight on the prison wall of the Cagney movie I'm watching.

The imagination works best, untethered. Let it roam, stretch and contort. When the optometrist gets into my face in the dark room with his, better now or now, I am breaking down ready to confess to anything from sneaking into a Multiplex to road rage on the freeway.

"It's hard to get the news from poetry," W.C. Williams said, "but every day people die from lack of it." With a surfeit of news stuffing our brain there still remains a hunger for some other substance where disbelief can be suspended so our boat might be rowed to Eden or the choppy seas where pirates lurk ready to pounce on our cargo of over-ripe melon and stale bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment