Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ars poetica for thin air cable show

George Spencer asked me if I would like to be interviewed for the thin air cable show which he and Mitch Corber are reviving. I sent him some recent poems. He also asked for an ars poetica, and so I sat down this morning and wrote this:

Ars Poetica?

I have two ideas about poetry that do not seem to go together. One idea is that poetry springs from a desire to be loved in the way we were loved as infants. Though society tries to civilize the desire by imposing proportion, reason and language—form, in other words—the desire remains transgressive, unreasonable and inarticulate, and so invites new forms of civilization. The other idea is that poetry arises from the seriousness of play. It is a glass bead game, as Herman Hesse has it, played by masters of the art, celebrated by the community, accompanied with prayerful meditation. Desire and play share common elements, of which restlessness is one. To my mind, however, they are fundamentally different approaches not just to poetry, but also to life. I try to hold on to both approaches in my writing, but sometimes one dominates and emerges as wit, or the other wins and sounds out as a cry.

2 comments:

Eshuneutics said...

But they do go together, I think. Children are great game players. In education, we haven't yet come to terms with the idea that gender--for children--is played. I wonder what part the intense fictional games of childhood play in the (gay) artist's make-up. We seem to have forgotten the part that drama and games once played in educational development. There is an educative element to poetry; not something right, heavy-handed and moralising, but something left, light-handed, and moral. At the heart of your most bubbling and erotic poems, there is always a moral awareness. In the bad poet, this is played out as guilt. In you, this is represented as a celebrated game. I like your ars poetica...yes, it fits and makes sense.

Jee Leong Koh said...

There must be some deep connection between desire and game since it would be inconceivable to hold the two together otherwise. But first their radical difference, and then the deep similarity.