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Few Women Have Written Retirement Plans
Finally they’ve halted the applause in the conference room over a promotion and those extremely small cupcakes. What more frightening than clapping in the office. Writing for Harriet during National Poetry Month? Perhaps! I shall now commence to getrightpast several of my concerns about this issue, so that the rest of my April posts might cause me fewer seraphims and you easier (optional, natch) reading. This is not meant to be mere provocation, but a consideration of how to approach poetry in a public space where the future feels known — I’m more comfortable with poetry as a disfiguring principle rather than a product. Essentialist thinking? Aware of that tendency. Would like to fight it out here, yield a future that is unknown. That said, the fast ramble:
1) My distaste for National Poetry Month — a wariness around anything you love coming at you from all directions, dressed in appeal. 2) Blogging (under my own name! you know I tendril daily news here, anyway, right) will undoubtedly be used to perform my own anxieties (check); C) Here they are (how many prefaces thus far) — I’ve written some notes on the backside of an article about Pierre Klossowski’s Living Currency regarding authority — when might one acquire authority enough to write about poetry (who cares?) (full-length) (because psychic) (you teach) (when co-signers get abject); ****) The Q. Why the desire to do any of this publicly, Olson’s notion of public and private being same; how for some of us it seems we are simply playing out, over the course of a lifetime, learning how to write (from Foul to Fair, that’s what I always say!) in, as it so happens, a public space, enamored of the “shared mind” as Duncan thought of it — now wrought as a near-constant, almost nominal, affectionate sourcing — or beguiled by our own Elective Affinities (the blog is quite good) … a community.
I often reference this Miles Champion/Alan Davies correspondence when I consider community, but can never find the bit about flying the plane with no windows. Read it anyway if you’d like to live comfortably during your golden years. “Writing is an aid to forgetting. Only by voiding the mind (from time to time) can we go on (with) living. (Cf. dreams) Only forgetting staves off senility.” –MC. Ah, here: “Literature is an action within a community. Therefore never obscene.” –AD. Hmm.
I’m grateful for, and aware of, those here at Harriet who already look outward. One note back of the late painter (Klossowski’s an inverted Denton Welch, career-wise?) is: “Those who are already looking outward are a) less self-obsessed and maybe carrying children and 2) are just different people.”
For there is a tendency these days, if you think time exists, to make ourselves indistinguishable under various terminological umbrellas (how close to terminal, eh — Stephen Booth’s breakdown of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59: “4. burthen burden. child! Q has ‘child?’”), e.g., experimental, avant-garde, postmodern, innovative, alternative (remember when alternative referred to the Smashing Pumpkins? me neither) “to connote a poetics that is broadly located as using generically non-normative strategies for the purpose of counter-political or cultural critique,” as Lewis Freedman has written. Where’s Flaubert’s Dictionary of Received Ideas when I need it? And still, we try to believe in this constellation of terms as safe difference. And then there’s the inevitability of better accuracy. As if we’ve walked outside just as the rain stops, said Yves Bonnefoy, that’s évident. Better repeated: “To a person who goes out in the morning into the rain just as it is stopping, it teaches that to be évident is to be ‘sufficient.’ It is what turns things into what I like to call ‘presences.’”
But if my resistance to National Poetry Month is merely resistance as wan non-complicity (I decided this during the rewrites), then what really resonates is not the need to be distinguished by the right aesthetic identifier. It’s that poetry as a marker itself contains every single argument. It’s hard out there for a completist with a fraud complex. Anxieties, mania, modesties and pre-diminished authority as related to reading and writing rest in some latent fear that we’re all expected to have the same cultural and literary knowledge banks, eventually. Padding our gaps with enthusiasm and opine. Could I leave my generic courtesies, objet darts, and in looking back, not turn into a pillar of sugar? Let’s hope so. And if, as Goldsmith-cum-Place says Hegel noted, “Spirit is a bone,” can that also float Pythagoras-cum-Nerval’s “Everything is sentient!”? Am I a romantic? Next time: the tightly packed line that tells you it is tightly packed + an introduction to the pebble.