Poetry News

Anthony Madrid Wonders 'What Is Poetry For?'

By Harriet Staff

anthony-madrid

Paris Review Daily has now published two of Anthony Madrid's quasi-kōan sets, "Both speech and silence are involved in transcendent detachment and subtle wisdom. How can we pass through without error?" (in July) and "I always remember Jiangnan in May; where the partridges call, the hundred flowers are fragrant." (Right this very second! (ish)) More:

Public Case 6: Ancient Chinese

Our teacher said: “Has anyone ever noticed that many of the most attractive ancient Chinese poets have the same ideas about poetry as modern American high school students? Anyhow, the themes are the same. What am I doing today. How am I feeling. What’s my philosophy. What can I see from where I’m sitting. What just happened. I am kind of a loser. What are my favorite quotes.”

One of the students said: “James Schuyler.”

Comment. It is hard for twenty-first-century USA poets to really understand old Chinese poetry: no surprise there. The surprise is that we find our own childhoods as difficult to “relate to” as the literary world of premodern China. We rub our eyes in disbelief when we have anything in common with either.

Tao Qian, James Schuyler, our own sixteen-year-old selves—of course they write about what they can see from where they’re sitting. What else can be seen?

The truth is almost everyone has almost everything in common. The main exception is the people who are “too smart for that.” They make a point of not having anything in common with anybody.

Continue at Paris Review.

Originally Published: September 30th, 2016