Friday, December 7, 2012
Great poetry creates a radical tangent to functional consciousness. Poems written within the milieu of functional consciousness -- school, type, concept, program, manifesto, responsibility, outreach -- will not be great poems. A great poem is a wild thing, and stubbornly unique. A great poem takes place in a region just beyond conventional ego and societal structure, is always an opening, is visionary.
Too much can't be said about the aspect of opening. Somehow, a great poet finds a way to make lines that defy the physics of terrestrial saying. A thousand ghosts of language, memory, and meaning are heretical transparencies that haunt a great poem's stanzas. As you read, the world expands into peculiar dimensions. How a great poet manages to do this using concrete images is beyond my comprehension. A great poet somehow opens spaces between the words -- intervening volumes where wonder floats. An opening in which spiritual suggestiveness arcs. A power of evocation.
Two aspects occur to me: restraint and disjuncture. In those rare poems, I find a lack of too much; in other words, minimalism conjures more than many words. And I find a quality of cleavage; in other words, from one line to another, expectation is startled, semantic flow subtly and artistically broken. For me, both of those aspects are conditions of opening.
A great poem seems akin to a miracle, and rare (almost doesn't exist). Coming upon a great poem, the reader experiences and begins to appreciate a shock to the system. One is swept into a discriminating perspective, becomes an involuntary yet dedicated snob. Henceforth, poems that are not great are trials to one's patience. The altered consciousness becomes addicted to high strangeness, to aesthetic marvels.
I'm not capable of writing a great poem, but I somehow know one when I read one.