"The Poet's Notebook"

The pleasure of writing is that the mind does not wander, any more than it does in orgasm,--and writing takes longer than orgasm.

--Donald Hall

Aperçus like the one by Hall above made me read The Poet's Notebook with curiosity and joy. There is a real attempt by the editors Stephen Kuusisto, Deborah Tall and David Weiss to include a great variety of note-taking concerns and styles. I discovered what draws me, and what repels. I am drawn to the irreverent, earthy and child-like. I am repelled by the pretentious, earnest and showy. Both are self-presentations, of course, for if the poet started making the notes for herself, she selected these notes for others, for the readers of this anthology. The self-presentation that gave me most light and delight was that of Charles Simic. Reading his notes made me want to read more of his poetry. A sample of his notes below:

It's the desire for irreverence as much as anything else that brought me first to poetry. The need to make fun of authority, break taboos, celebrate the body and its functions, claim that one has seen angels in the same breath as one says that there is no god. Just thinking about the possibility of saying shit to everything made me roll on the floor with happiness.

Here's Octavio Paz at his best: "The poem will continue to be one of the few resources by which man go beyond himself to find out what he is profoundly and originally."

The lyric poem is often a scandalous assetion that the private is public, that the local is universal, that the ephemeral is eternal. And it happens. The poets turn out to be right. This is what the philosophers cannot forgive the poets.

I love Mina Loy's: "No man whose sex life was satisfactory ever became a moral censor."

Christ, like Sappho, challenges the tribe. Their message is, you have no tribal obligations, only the love for the Father in the first case and the love of your own solitude in the second case.

Imagination equals Eros. I want to experience what it's like to be inside someone else in the moment when that someone is being touched by me.


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