Writing Locally

I just heard this very good poem on a podcast. This poet is digging, very effectively, into his Portland OR neighborhood.

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Don’t Read Poetry

I am a poet. When I forget that, I wander off into thickets of entropy. I think about poetry, often and a lot, and I think maybe you should not read it. I mean you should do something else with it. Because reading poetry can lead to thickets of attempted comprehension, and poetry isn’t about comprehension. Poetry isn’t just about top to bottom, left to right. Metaphor is not the same as enigma or secret code. It’s certainly not about that Robert Caro quote perhaps you know, “The only thing that matters is on the page.” That’s true, but it means something else.

The essential thing that makes poetry work, if and when it does, is not on the page at all. It’s in the reader’s mind. It’s waiting in the mind for a poem to appear, or a phrase of music, or a smell of food cooking, or a moment’s image of people from a car window. It’s not an understanding, it’s a recognition, a resonance. It is at best a meeting of minds across time and space.

“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.”– Rebecca Lindenberg

So I suggest do you not read poetry. Listen to it. Pick it up and hold it like something that belonged to someone you love, or something they made for you, and run your hand over it. If you can’t do that, swallow it hole and let it swim around inside you like a fish.
Whatever you do, never ask a poet what a poem means. It means the taste of that cake your mother made for your birthday. It means the cold fog rolling in.

Hunger

“People are hungry for the imaginative language of poetry and for the authentic voice of one another, the heart-language, because so much of our experience is mediated now by propaganda, by commerce, by social media. We’re being sold to all the time. So we’re hungry for more authentic experience, and that’s what poetry is: It’s idiosyncratic language; it’s weirdness and wildness.”

Sarah Browning 

Poets & Writers interview

The Art of Poetry

is changing, has changed. It’s a good thing, a beautiful thing.

I’m not a young dude. I’ve been trying to write poetry since 1980. My school is Eliot, Pound, Frost, Bly, Stafford, Kinnell, Strand, Collins, Roethke, Olds, Oliver …  so when I began to hear spoken words forms that sound a little – to me – like somebody rappin’, I resisted. I was wrong. Poetry is change, like any art. Art lives by changing. And it’s all good.

 

There’ no debate it’s not too late and if I hesitate then I reiterate:

Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.
– Adrienne Rich

Why Write Poetry?

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.

 

nailed it

November

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,
gathering dark
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
10.31.2017
Work in process, probably.

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