Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Quotes on poetics



Some bloggers have been tagging other bloggers and asking them to quote ten statements of poetics; some of the other bloggers have done so, listing the influences and ideas that inform them, and some have not. Some bloggers have not been tagged at all, but have decided to participate nonetheless.

Here's my list — ten poets, plus Shklovsky. I'll resist the temptation — for today, at least — to provide commentary or explanation, or to elucidate in which ways, exactly, these have shaped my writing and thinking.


Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects “unfamiliar,” to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.... [T]he ultimate purpose of the work of art is ... the renewal of perception, the seeing of the world suddenly in a new light, in a new unforeseen way.

— Victor Shklovsky
"Art as Technique"


— - — - —



To begin with, I don't think that the messages are for the poet any more than the radio program is for the radio set. And I think that the radio set doesn't really worry about whether anyone's listening to it or not, and neither does the poet. The poem may have some Nielsen ratings of its own. It carries on in the middle distance somewhere.

—Jack Spicer
"Vancouver Lecture I"


— - — - —



[A] case can be made out for the poet giving some of his life to the use of the words the and a: both of which are weighted with as much epos and historical destiny as one man can perhaps resolve. Those who do not believe in this are too sure that the little words mean nothing among so many other words.

— Louis Zukofsky
"Poetry / For My Son
When He Can Read"


— - — - —



dont you know that "No" is the wildest word we consign to Language?

— Emily Dickinson
Letter 562, c. 1878
to Otis P. Lord


— - — - —



Due to N. O. Brown's remark that syntax is the arrangement of the army, and Thoreau's that when he heard a sentence he heard feet marching, I became devoted to nonsyntactical "demilitarized" language.

— John Cage
Empty Words


— - — - —



I am a grammarian I do not hesitate but I rearrange prepositions.

— Gertrude Stein
How to Write


— - — - —



The "open text," by definition, is open to the world and particularly to the reader. It invites participation, rejects the authority of the writer over the reader and thus, by analogy, the authority implicit in other (social, economic, cultural) hierarchies. It speaks for writing that is generative rather than directive.

— Lyn Hejinian
"The Rejection of Closure"


— - — - —



[T]he poet is the Namer or Language-maker, naming things sometimes after their appearance, sometimes after their essence, and giving to every one its own name and not another's, thereby rejoicing the intellect, which delights in detachments or boundary. The poets made all the words, and therefore language is the archives of history.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The Poet"


— - — - —



Say the rhythm before you play it. It may not be necessary to express this in nonsense syllables. Perhaps there could be such syllables which coalesce into words as the poem moves along.

— John Taggart
"Were You: Notes & a Poem
for Michael Palmer"


— - — - —



What would a non-expressive poetry look like? A poetry of intellect rather than emotion? One in which the substitutions at the heart of metaphor and image were replaced by the direct presentation of language itself, with ‘spontaneous overflow’ supplanted by meticulous procedure and exhaustively logical process? In which the self-regard of the poet’s ego were turned back onto the self-reflexive language of the poem itself? So that the test of poetry were no longer whether it could have been done better (the question of the workshop), but whether it could conceivably have been done otherwise.



— - — - —



[W]riting which seems to be "about" meaning also takes as its goal the challenging of existing frames and the widening of this social realm of possibility. It involves testing the horizon, setting up a probe, by violating codes so that each unit keeps getting reframed — or keeps reframing what's going on before it and what might come next as you challenge these wider and wider concentric circles of normalization, or of a functional fit, almost a machinelike fit that exists within the social dimension of language. So this larger operation of the entire body of language — the internal relations of this totality — can begin to be recast.... The methods by which meaning arrives in a prefabricated way are challenged and, at the same time, so are the limitsof the socal order.

— Bruce Andrews
"Total Equals What"






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