Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Muriel Rukeyser

from The Life of Poetry

In the author's note before the book begins, R. writes:

A way to allow people to feel the meeting of their consciousness and the world, to feel the full value of the meanings of emotions and ideas in their relations with each other, and to understand, in the glimpse of a moment, the freshness of things and their possibilities...There is an art which gives us that way; and it is, in our society, an outcast art. [poetry]


I have tried to go behind the resistance, which is often a fear of poetry, and to show what might be ahead of this culture in conflict, with its background of strength and antagonism. If we are free, we are free to choose a tradition, and we find in the past as well as the present our poets of outrage--like Melville--and our poets of possibility--like Whitman.


I have attempted to suggest a dynamics of poetry, showing that a poem is not its words or its images, any more than a symphony is its notes or a river its drops of water. Poetry depends on the moving relations within itself. It is an art that lives in time, expressing and evoking the moving relation between the individual consciousness and the world. The work that a poem does is a transfer of human energy, and I think human energy may be defined as consciousness, the capacity to make change in existing conditions. It appears to me that to accept poetry in these meanings would make it possible for people to use it as an "exercise," an enjoyment of the possibility of dealing with the meanings in the world and in their lives.

Monday, February 04, 2013

while the snow is accumulating I think: what a day for a daydream
or, I think: how can this dog keep sleeping, what noise, what distraction
and I wonder: a space of cold, a monday in february, an inclination toward the softest powder

I could write you a response, something about the body or a bombing or how long it takes to float down from the very top floor or the building

or instead I could imagine a world without poetry

just kidding

but I think someone mentioned it. what is the purpose of poetry. or, what I mean to say is, what is the purpose of not poetry, of no poetry, how can there be any purpose without poetry

while the snow is accumulating it becomes clear that rukeyser and women poets and poetry are imperative

to a sense of (re)articulating, of understanding how language creates and unmakes us, how we can and can't use words to do anything, how policy and politics and journalism and science do their thing and poetry does a thing and sometimes these are related, complimentary, reciprocal, responsive to one another, and sometimes they are all doing totally separate things and that is how it is.

this sounds like a stein essay. no really. sometimes they are related and sometimes seemingly not. but one cannot have only political poetry or only aesthetic (aesthetically playful, innovative, etc etc) poetry (poetry interested in its aesthetic value or presentation vs having political content).

I am watching the snow accumulate and realize I have no point. about rukeyser or much else. not yet. but what is extra-ordinary about rukeyser, about women poets, about women modernist poets in their play between public (social, political, identificatory) and personal (aesthetic, linguistic, poetic, intuitive) location, the scientific, gender and intellectual politics... how is "the political" to be teased in layers, played through figurative and sensory inclinations, woven like the fabric of our very lives that are never simply a matter of form or content but a constant shifting and nuanced negotiation of both, of the continuum of these to always different degrees from one moment to the next.

more on rukeyser. that paper needs written. a possible layering of poems and snow and/or I procrastinate shoveling. waiting for spring, for concrete language, for images that resonate and help us clarify our own questions about the world. or ask more questions, maybe kind of the point, what kinds of questions will make us more...