Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fear of Sucking

So I'm working on translating another piece of published juvenilia (modeled after, or derived from, or ripping off a Mark Halliday poem from Little Star). Twice removed from worth anything, except some poor deluded soul or committee of souls chose to publish it in a small journal, so I guess it's worth something. And it's actually OK, a little less image-heavy and more narrative than my usual crap.

Anyway, at the same time, I am studying an article called 25 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic and fighting a wave of headache and nausea and actively hiding from the day. As I contemplate making an honest effort to increase traffic, it seems to me that Not Bob's list of 25 omits perhaps the most essential: don't suck. How many people read blogs that suck? (How many people are reading and answering this question right now? The answers to those questions, says my sunken self-esteem, are identical.) The golden rule of "Don't Suck" does not make the list. Instead, perhaps its opposite: "Post Consistently." All in a panic, I think to myself, "I barely have anything to say twice a month on this blog ... What will I say if I post a few times a week?"

Of course, having developed (somewhat) my theory of the Poetry of the Impossible, which comprises these points:

  1. Poetry is not that serious
  2. Poetry does not affect Reality directly, only acts from the fringes to filter down into cultural understandings of Reality
  3. Reality is quite beyond our ability to understand
  4. Language is a terribly flawed means of communicating our understanding of Reality
  5. But still, Language is the best means of communication we have
  6. The limitations of Language create the tools and tricks of the Poetic trade
  7. Poetry is essentially a game using those tools and tricks to force Language to move closer to a true representation of Reality, bridging the Subjective and Objective
  8. Poetry is essentially a game we can never win, a game in which we can never be certain of the score
  9. Thus, all Poetry is Objectively equal because entirely dependent for value upon the Subjective
  10. Thus, there are no more or less legitimate forms of Poetry
  11. Thus, there is only Poetry I like better and Poetry I don't like so much 
  12. Thus, concerns about Am I a good poet? are best understood as more superficial concerns, such as Will my poetry be acceptable to these literary journals? or Will my poetry get me into that MFA program? or If I show my friends my poetry, will they laugh at me? or Does my poem rhyme good?
  13. Given the superficial Subjectivity of these "core" value concerns, every Poem will succeed in some contexts and fail in others; every Poem will simultaneously Suck and Not Suck (Like Schrodinger's cat, we put the Poem in a box and its value equals all probabilities at once until someone opens the box ... The Poem, however, either Sucks or Not depending upon the person opening the box, whereas the cat is either dead or alive, one or the other, regardless)
  14. Given the impossibility of winning the game, of forcing Language to represent True Reality (or of even knowing what True Reality is), there is also no possibility of losing the game, and so no limitations on--no rules (except for whatever rules the Poet chooses to provisionally adopt) of--the game.
(god, that was a long tangent to arrive at this point)I must concede that Fear of Sucking is entirely irrational, and should not even be considered when posting on a blog like this.

But then, as human beings are irrational, Fear of Sucking is a legitimate consideration. What shall I do now?

So, how about every Tuesday and Thursday, at least, I post here one of several different things:
  1. Revisions to an existing poem
  2. Draft of a new poem
  3. An old poem (Juvenilia)
  4. My thoughts about poetry and poetics
  5. A method of generating poetic matter and/or my results from using such a method
  6. My thoughts on things I see around the Poetosphere (what do you think of that label? I'm not sure ...)
  7. A critical appraisal and/or analysis of someone else's poetry, whether unknown or well-known
Think I'll try that. Echo echo echo ...

Friday, January 27, 2012

From the German.

I'm stuck. I should be working on "All Things Being Equal," (that is the agreement I made with myself) but I fear it may be completely unsalvageable. So, to fuck around and waste time productively, I took four texts translated from the German--Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism," Goethe's Faust, Rilke's Duino Elegies, and the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm--and plugged them into eGnoetry to try to make some interesting novel connections. What follows are the raw results, the turbulent flow. I may set straight quotes from the works to act as attractors, or I might build it around memories of a German girlfriend many years ago. Or I might just forget about it, because I already have too many unfinished long poems. Who knows? Anyway ...

This was morbidly anxious to know. I felt
this difficulty in silence. It's all,

I stepped leisurely
across the life -- or two who lifted a
capital -- normal from head was thinking of
having lost sight; this -- the
I had been planning to
his hands, and sealed his.

I proposed a singleness of nightmares. The manager,
wild and devil, almost
certain I had become a foolish
faces. I had nothing,
four pilgrims in a wonder. I saw
the passing away quick, nor I did not so.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Juvenilia: A Prayer

This poem, under the title "A Prayer From Hell," won me second prize in a contest put on by a minor literary journal in 1996. I was pretty proud of that. It has the same excesses and weaknesses you can see in my current work. More or less. When I was applying to graduate schools and considering attempting to gain entry into a creative writing program, I consulted with one of my undergrad professors about a stack of poems, this one included. He suggested lopping the last few lines off, and I think he was correct. I am including them here as they were published, but running the red line through them, just to let you know. With the whole of the poem, and the constituent parts, as with everything, I am ambivalent.