“The roots of poetry are buried in proto-shamanism, which I suspect is of Upper Paleolithic antiquity. The shaman, as a novice, must rid himself of his given body, for a new and magical body, which is capable of mental travel. The main difference here between shamans, say, in 19th century Siberia, and poets in America today, is that shamans were central to their communities, they belonged in a way no American writer, even those with huge audiences, belong today. Whatever one must do to make the move from the given life to a creative one — well, that is up to each of us. The poetry scene today is flooded with young, talented, unoriginal writers who are trying to write significant poetry based on their given lives…”
As a poet, I have been accused of OBE, by turns defined as out of body experience and overcome by events. Several people have said they don’t understand how a poet goes to the places where a poet goes; how we manage to attribute states of Being to situations, settings and states of mind that transcend their ordinary definition. I tend to think that transcendent reality is inherent in those things; it just takes someone willing to look at them sideways or through a refracted light to bring them out. And willing to transcribe the music that results.
As for the task of the poet to move from given life to a creative one, I think that’s only possible moment to moment. The spirit of the full time shaman is stone cold dead in the Western world; killed off, probably, by the television. Do you disagree?