Paul Hoover's Poetry Blog
After enjoying Pierre Joris' Nomadics blog, I've decided to try one for myself. It will be a place to put essays, new and old, poems when that is called for, and to carry on discussions about matters of poetics. I had thought for a while of calling it "The Mill," after a poem of mine that appeared in Poems in Spanish, but I balked when Blake's dark satanic mills came to mind. I was thinking actually of the old river mills where grain was crushed by means of water power: the patient turning out of productive material, in our case thought. The pitfalls to such discussion is that they become tournaments of ego; that they waste everyone's time with contentiousness and triviality; and that they serve one's interest in the means of delivery, the blog itself, rather than poetry. I haven't a specific poetics to put forth now, although, as I'm sure we all suspect, none of us are without one, and some of our poetics are fiercely held. I wrote the poem below in imitation of a Gerhard Richter statement. Richter is well-known for spreading himself thickly across the modes of representation, at ease in the figurative and in the abstract, the political (Meinhof Gang series) and the personal (his naked wife descending the stairs), decorative one moment and hard-edged the next. I began the poem as a joke on the vacancy of poetics statements, but it soon transformed into something else.
I have no objectives, no system, no tendency, and no plan.
I have no speech, no tongue, no memory, and no realm.
Because nothing matters, I am consistent, committed, and excited.
I prefer the definite, the bounded, the repressed and the weak.
Not objectivity but neutrality of being.
Not spontaneity but panic.
For only seeing believes and only the body thinks.
For success is common to those who fail.
For the world’s beauty is fading because the world is fading.
For the best narrative is always oblique.
For thought only thinks it thinks—all has been foretold.
For without cruelty, there would be no beauty.
For kindness is always a little bit tragic.
For the mind's progress is zig-zag and stabs at every tree.
For the best art makes things disappear.
I don't know that this poem is enough to stir any reaction or discussion. The line "For the best narrative is always oblique" is undoubtedly false--why should a narrative not be direct? But some of the poem's lines are worth thinking about: "For the best art makes things disappear," for instance. I was reading Meister Eckhart, Kabbalism, and Heidegger at the time I wrote that. Generally, I enjoy poems that cause the world to rush into my head rather than out of it. But Satie was on to something when he wrote, "Experience is a sort of paralysis." The real experience of a poem is not what it relates but what it discovers. Poems have no experiences. They don't shower in the morning and they don't eat turkey sandwiches. The life of the poem is in its language, but in saying so I am not siding with whose who believe that language is enough. What I'm really saying, I think, is that poetry is least interesting when it is most reliant on the experiences of its author.