Monday, March 03, 2014

Why do we write Poetry?

from :

Laura (Riding) Jackson: Against the Commodity of the Poem (part 1)

"Why do we write poetry? According to Laura (Riding) Jackson, when she still believed in and wrote poetry, it is not to create “art” but to discover “an advanced degree of self” (Anarchism, 119). To further explain her notion of this “self” as a system of poetics, she writes, “when this self has been isolated from all that is impression and impurity of contact in an individual, then a ‘thing,’ a work, occurs, it is discharged from the individual, it is self; not his self, but Self” (Anarchism, 6). Poetry then is transcendent of the individual who is writing the poem; art perhaps is not. Poetry is a process that reveals or recognizes a beginning, an origin that causes all humans to become defined by the commonality of awareness, of being, of selfhood. The border, the “degree in the consciousness beyond which the consciousness itself cannot go” is for Laura (Riding) Jackson the edge of our capacity to know ourselves. The goal of poetry is to reach this edge, to lean as far outside of the body as is possible without collapsing in on the self. Poetry is a telescope, or a microscope that focuses awareness of the body, and through the body focuses an awareness on self, not an individual self, but the selfness of being.  Given this view of poetry, it is of little surprise that Laura (Riding) Jackson was greatly and continuously offended by notions of poetry as commodity, as game, or as “public flattery.” Her integrity as a writer lies in her extreme seriousness about the act of writing. It is for her alchemical, and timeless. It answers not to public opinion or to poetic movement or to one’s contemporaries. Poetry may not even answer to the poet herself.  Thus, “Riding concluded that poetry is ‘perhaps the only human pursuit left still capable of developing anti-socially,’ that is, to serve only poetry’s intrinsic needs” (Adams, 38).


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