Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What's a Poet?

I agree that the tendency to construct a person out of words, and to interpolate into these words whatever we know about a poet--Josh plays D and D, Jordan likes Anime, some of us are parents, some aren't--is probably to some degree inevitable, and indeed I don't think there's anything wrong with this kind of reading practice, as long as it's one practice among many.

But there's a big difference between missing the words for the poet, looking past the page to the life, and seeing the poet as words, as an authorial intention emanating not from an apartment in D.C. or Oakland but from the particular arrangement of verbal references language allows. So much of the poetry that I value frustrates any other kind of experience. And although I know that the part of me that seeks to predict the behavior of others will always construct some kind of intention, there is poetry that reminds me of what a fictional intention this is--and thank god.

I'm very sympathetic to the desire to recuperate terms like personality and sensibility for poetry criticism. But, for me, it's important to know what I'm talking about.

"What makes my image of him into an image of him. Not its looking like him!"

Otherwise, aren't we just playing Oprahs to The Tiny's Freys and James? As Jane reminded us awhile back--a comment that Ron reiterated--most of the cultural forms with "wide circulation" love the idea of poetry, the idea of the poet, the life of the poet, but they don't want to do the hard work of actually reading a poem.

And this is one of the ways Kasey's category 2 turns into category 1. This is the way we start working for Sales rather than R&D.

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