Thursday, March 12, 2009

Short Poems in the Shop of the World

In the coming months I have my best poems, around 23 or 25 I can't remember, coming in

No Tell Motel
The Raleigh Quarterly
Sub Lit
Strange Machine
Avatar Review

But where will they go after that? I have enough poems to fill a colander, and out of that will come one or two short manuscripts. The manuscripts already exist, actually. I just keep putting them through the colander. Its a nightly ritual. I admire people who can run with their concepts, create a theme for a length and stick with it. Every poems for me feels different.

Unless its preconceived, which I do not always believe it should be, the readers find your themes. This excuse sounds akin to shitty interviews with aloof musicians who are elusive about their lyrics (and why shouldn't they be? Yet unless your Bob Dylan Circa 1963, it doesn't make the interviews more interesting to read). I admire those early books of Charles Simic where poems are collected under the poet's recent stylistic infatuation, rather than a theme.

Emily Kendal Frey's new e-book AIRPORT successfully spins on her theme. Additionally she writes solely in the short poem (and she does it very well) which to me right now is the most enthralling. The short verse is also the best model for the e-book, currently. I haven't seen studies yet (I haven't looked) but I believe, like the translation of information that makes your brain work harder and more easily burned out when processing digitized music, reading on a screen translates information differently than reading on a page (the old analog vs digital). In this way short poems, at any time, for me, create the most agreeable translation (this also may be called laziness). Also, fuck the Kindle.

Short poems exude a type of confidence that's too often undermentioned. Jack Spicer dismissed his earlier short works as "one night stands." Though it seems he wasn't lacking in confidence, his downplay of his earlier poems (what i think is his most exciting work) says otherwise (though what artist doesn't dismiss their earlier work). It is easy to see these poems as fleeting, but they are the reason I love early Guided By Voices and Joshua Beckman's
Your Time Has Come. I prefer my 45's to my full lengths LP's.

In a recent review in The Nation of Barbara Guest's Collected poems, the following excerpt demystified my understanding of the short poem, presenting a case with emboldened wisdom from dead Europeans.

Another of Levertov's complaints to Guest was that "often a poem of yours has seemed to me like an unrelated series of poem-seeds, none of them developed." It is an astute observation and one that Guest might not have repudiated, except of course for the tone of complaint with which it was lodged. In a lecture given in 1990 Guest appreciatively quoted the French Symbolist poet Jules Laforgue, who observed, "In the flashes of identity between subject and object lie the nature of genius. And any attempt to codify such flashes is but an academic pastime." What for Levertov were merely seeds are Laforgue's--and Guest's--"flashes," just as Levertov's all-important "development" was for them mere "codification." This points to a fundamental difference between Levertov--three years younger but already a far more prominent figure in the poetry world--and Guest: the former was essentially a classicist in aesthetics; the latter, a pure romantic. The essence of romantic poetry, as Friedrich Schlegel asserted in 1798, was that "it should forever be becoming and never perfected."
In the end it may be a romantic disposition I have not admitted. Some people need an evening or a lifetime to fall in love. Others only need a flash of an eye.

1 comment:

Brooklyn said...

I'm going to start ending every argument with, "... is but an academic pastime."

I love Barbara Guest. Part of why I love her poetry are her "flashes of identity" -so unforced! It's good stuff.