Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.
- De-racinated, “no root system,” a criticism Tony Hoagland makes regarding so much contemporary American poetry. Also, he notes our fiction is far less diversified than our poetry, in its many tribes.
- Don’t know who described Franz Wright as not a formal poet yet “the structure of his poems develop organically, driven by music, rhythm, and symmetry.” Not a bad model!
- For that matter, who wrote, “Their humor often depends on a single word: in fact the whole laugh can rest on a single word choice,” before quoting Mark Twain: “The difference between any word and the ‘right’ word is the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”
- TONE as the angle of sensibility toward the subject. Looking, too, for the fractional element – the bit that counters the previous.
- As far as the persona of the writer, think of that time before World War II and the larger-than-life characters who were largely self-created: the conductor Leopold Stokowski or movie star Cary Grant as examples who wound up as caricatures of themselves, or at least strangers. It was, after all, a Sol Hurok era. As for our own obsession with “celebrities” rather than “doers”?
- Czeslow Milosz: “The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person.”
- Denise Levertov corresponding with William Carlos Williams: “I have been honest in what I’ve written – but with what hypocrisy I have selected what I wrote!”
- To which Williams replied: “You know yourself better than anyone else can ever know you. … Perhaps you will never be able to say what you want to say … deep feeling that would reveal you in what may not want to be revealed … In that case, the loss will be great.”
- John Berryman: “You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise, you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.”
- “And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey” (Joshua 9:13, KJV).