I can no longer recall what I was searching for when I came across Dana Gioia’s “Thirteen Ways of Thinking About the Poetic Line,” but that somehow led me to…
…John Gallaher’s notes on the line, a blog entry occasioned by his having read an issue of Center that featured a “symposium on the line” (time to get a copy!). I’m not sure how I got here though, because oddly, Gallaher doesn’t mention Gioia at all. He does mention…
…Annie Finch, whose “Grails and Legacies: Thoughts on the Line” I read. (She mentions Gioia, by the way, but only how he scans “Red Wheelbarrow” as two lines of iambic pentameter broken into lines.) Looking up Annie Finch made me fall in love with a book she co-edited. I hope to order An Exaltation of Forms soon.
Going back to Gallaher, he keeps referring to Michael Palmer’s “Notes for Echo Lake 4” as “the (emblematic) poem of our age.” I’m not sure I’d go as far as he does, but it’s certainly a fantastic poem.
I really like Michael Palmer a lot. I don’t claim to understand everything he does, but he’s brilliant as 1–2–3 in his poems, and even essays where he talks about, say, Robert Duncan (I’m trying to look for a way to bridge Language poetry and Robert Duncan, who was a harsh critic of it).
And Duncan has been very inspirational, especially when he talks about how
the artist of abundancies delites in puns, interlocking and separating figures, plays of things missing or things appearing “out of order” that remind us that all orders have their justification in an order of orders only our faith as we work addresses.
I loved reading all of these things, though truth be told, I’m not sure how they helped me complete my poem for tomorrow’s workshop. I feel absolutely certain they played some sort of part in the procedure though.
I feel good now, which I didn’t when I re-read “Subduing the reader” early this morning. I’m always disturbed by the warning it makes about “need[ing] always to be alert to writers who claim that good poetry must be difficult, accessible only to the educated few, and see this claim for what it is–fascist.”
I figure it’s the “must” that gets to Laurie Smith. I too have a problem with such unwavering imperatives, but unlike her, I want to assert that there is much room in poetry for difficulty.