poetics for living

My current preoccupation is with questions of form. Which is, I suppose, a question of identity. An impulse to identify. I call myself (think of myself as) “poet,” which might suggest I write poems and yet I have not written poems in some time.

I am a poet, I suppose, in similar ways to how I am an American. With spotty contextual or historical knowledge, some uncertainty as to my own legitimacy in making such a claim, some doubt as to whether my current practices reinforce or thwart my efforts toward the claimed state.

States evolve, I know. States are not static. Still, questions remain.

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Sometimes, I hear myself talking about art, or talking about writing, and I wish I could stop myself mid-sentence. I claim such a small body of knowledge, on such a small piece of what is knowable. Surely, listening would be preferable to speaking most of the time? That pleasure – encountering the expression of a thought or feeling or impulse – articulated with simple clarity by another mind.

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A friend gives a talk about the “weird pleasures of going blind,” and what astonishes and delights is the way he is able to transform this personal experience – gradually losing his sight – into questions of meaning in art – how art makes the ordinary new, makes it strange, destabilizes, distorts, interrupts.

The way one moves through the world, interprets it, makes connections between one experience and another, becomes, after all, a kind of philosophy – a poetics for living.

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But back to questions of form. I have at times tried to suggest that hybridity can be considered as a way to describe the text itself in formal terms – poetry and prose, prose and image, and so forth – but also as a method – an approach, a set of techniques and practices to create and compose text. The extent to which this latter claim might be proven true or accurate is of less interest to me than the possibilities it presents. The possibility to approach the work with a sense that it can be created from within and without – by what seems to come naturally, impulsively from one’s own mind, unbidden, and by that which is coaxed from some other place, by more artificial means: Make a list, respond to prompts, write a love poem incorporating these seventeen rules, and so forth.

Make a grandiose statement: One composes as one lives.

Negate something in a sentence where you mention some form of weather: Before the storm, they hurried us into shelters, but nothing could prevent us from wanting more than what we had.

Make a statement of confession that is purposefully vague: I left when I should have stayed.

Say something you might utter to a statue of yourself, without indicating that is what you are doing: If I thought one day you might speak, I’d stay here as as long as it takes.