You mustn’t take me too seriously if I now proceed to brag a bit about my exploits as a poet. There is one qualifying fact always to bear in mind: there is a kind of success called “of esteem” and it butters no parsnips. It means a success with a critical few who are supposed to know. But really to arrive where I can stand on my legs as a poet and nothing else I must get outside that circle to the general reader who buys books in their thousands. I may not be able to do that. I believe in doing it – don’t you doubt me there. I want to be a poet for all sorts and kinds. I could never make a merit of being caviar to the crowd the way my quasi-friend Pound does. I want to reach out, and would if it were a thing I could do – if it were a thing I could do by taking thought.
—Robert Frost in a letter to John Bartlett, 1913
Archive for August 7th, 2013
Feels like my “Caught My Eye” sidebar is bursting at the seams these days. So much so that things get pushed off the page before anyone gets a chance to see them. Here’s a rundown of recent links:
Looking forward to exploring this collection. I once had the the pleasure of chauffeuring Robert Pinsky from Charlotte, NC, to Greensboro. We talked about gardens (I confessed my habit of planting imaginary gardens everywhere I went—sizing up people’s yards and deciding what I’d do with them) and, yes, poetry. I’ve always meant to write a poem about it. One of these days I might get around to doing it.
“It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood-and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad-the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.”
“I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.”
“What do we say when, for once, a cliché rings true? It’s unspeakable, or at least disconcerting. Meaning something words don’t fit any more.”
“Moore, as I understand her project, champions both clarity and complexity, rejecting the shallow notion that they are opposites. Scorning a middlebrow reduction of everything into easy chunks, she also scorns obfuscation and evasive cop-outs. Tacitly impatient with complacency and bluffing, deriding the flea-bitten critic, unsettling the too-ordinary reader, she sets forth an art that is irritable, attentive, and memorably fluid.”
(Obviously I went on a bit of a Marianne Moore rabbit trail.)
“The Los Angeles Times has issued a call for poems. I’ve longed for such a moment. It seems a natural marriage, not just because newspapers and poetry both seem to be involved in the same meta-conversation of their respective survivability and relevance in an iWorld, but because the news and poetry both should be considered daily. ”
• 750 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. So many enticing offerings here!
• Free course: Man and Mammoth in the Carolinas. (Scroll down for links to video & teacher/student guides. Aimed at middle-school students. Yep, the Carolinas are a long way from the Pacific coast, but I’m enjoying these videos with my gang.)
Food for thought:
“Err in the direction of kindness.”