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Journal, Day Four

By Kim Addonizio

I checked out the article yesterday’s commenter recommended (online at rocksaltplum.com). Think I’ll leave alone The State of Contemporary Poetry, except for any previous comments.

Or, maybe not. Qualification: I suppose I meant really, in my previous post, that poetry has been hijacked sometimes by the intellectualizers. And just as much by sappy emotionalists (probably not a word—what word do I want?) Though I have always sort of wanted to write an Emotionalist Manifesto. “Since feeling is first,” etc.—But then I immediately know that’s not it. It’s like the New Age—I hate the New Age. I hate its language. But really, I believe in balance, harmony, wholeness, flow (why do those words sound so insipid lined up together?). So, I hate the “This happened to me and it’s my expression so it’s all brave and beautiful” line, and I do not want to practice therapy without a license, and have found myself in that discomfiting position several times. . . .

Yet I also want to honor the impulse (“honor the impulse?” gag) that is attempting expression in art. Well, that’s balance: emotion and intellect. Too much of one or the other is a dead end. I think I’ve pretty much offered this rather obvious idea already. But I guess I harp on it here precisely because of the professionalism of a lot of poets or would-be poets, running to get their MFAs so they can teach, or wanting a book because they need it for tenure. What happened to writing poems out of inner necessity? That’s the only kind of writing I value (and I want it to be good) (and I’m not saying mine is, btw; I’m doing the best I can, and I’m trying to learn more & get better) (the best definition of a poet I ever heard is “language master” and I don’t have the hubris to think that applies to me)—Nothing wrong with teaching, we’ve all got to make a living, life is hard all over etc. But still.

It is hard to be a poet in this oppressive & spiritually deadening culture. (How many obvious ideas will this post contain?). And, dare I say it after the comment on intellectuals, this anti-intellectual culture. (Apparently I have a few more o.i.’s to, ah, share.) Do we need more poets to be critics, as someone suggested? Personally I think we need more poets to be poets. Though we certainly need better critics than yahoos (here I paused and reviewed a few candidates for this noun, like c.p., fucktard, and asshat, but then I thought, oh, no, this is kind of a prestigious site, and they won’t like that) like (and then I thought, as I usually do, oh well, fuck it, this is why I’m not in academia) William Logan. (And if you want to know what I really think, check out my own blog.)

On this note, I seem to have run out of steam for today.

Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, April 27th, 2006 by Kim Addonizio.