I’ve just read, and herewith recommend, this interview by McSweeny’s of the poet Rebecca Lindenberg. Asked, “why write poetry?” she answers:
I think there is a general misconception that you write poems because you “have something to say.” I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say. Poetry allows us to hold many related tangential notions in very close orbit around each other at the same time. The “unsayable” thing at the center of the poem becomes visible to the poet and reader in the same way that dark matter becomes visible to the astrophysicist. You can’t see it, but by measure of its effect on the visible, it can become so precise a silhouette you can almost know it.
It’s hard to find the moments
that I need, when the clouds
settle down and are quiet,
when the wind is the right
shade of blue, when all
of the people float over looking
like dogs or butterflies,
underbellies of rain.
Now you weep and I despise
myself, beyond atonement,
culpable for the starlight,
pushed to the brink
with the falling leaves.
J. Kyle Kimberlin
Work in process, probably.
Poetry is the art of saying the unsayable, that which can only be said in a kind of music, which can be said in no other way.
I have always felt, very strongly, that all art should be allowed to speak for itself. Maybe that’s most essentially true of poetry.
Res ipsa loquitur.
Our lives are a mystery to us. So much happens at the level of shadow and heartbeat, of spirit, breath and reflection.
If you ask a poet, “what does it mean?” you’re asking for the unspeakable to be spoken, for a song without music, for a kind of life demeaned and stripped of art. If it could be said the way you want it explained, it wouldn’t be poetry in the first place. You’re asking him to take that work out of its context and put it in yours.
Read it again. Read it at sunrise or in the bathtub. Read it while rain pounds on the house. Read it with one eye open or with a mouth full of feathers and wine. Read it over and over until it gets through to you. Or give up. Move on and try again when you’re older. When you can hear the clock more clearly ticking, maybe it’s time.
His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,
His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technique how to vary the avoidance.
– Robert Francis
I have been wanting to share this poem with someone for at least a week, and I can’t stand it anymore.
Want to see it in Spanish and English? Here.