Monday, June 2, 2008

Barbara Guest --poetics

I am mired in revisions for an academic essay, and badly in need a poetry break.

Here is an intriguing "statement" of poetics that Barbara Guest apparently presented in 1998 at Naropa. It is reprinted in How2:

How about some posts on her ideas?

A Reverie on the Making of a Poem, June 1998

Arrived at the terrain of her sensibility

–a stasis and

pull in the composition physical–
remember, a contradictory tug phantom-like–
upon the environs of the poem–;

think of poem going through these stages
balance and non-movement
always an inert force in poem to try to bring it back and force this on the
surface of poem


darkening of the page and then withdrawal
of darkening:gradually the page lightens,
the invisible heavinesslifted itself.


this elevation.

With no warning (from inside the text,

mind attached to the text)

method to elevate poem from surface


and attacked by dizziness of atmosphere!

In the attack of suspense; a masterful

development of plot and erasure.


The echo the words grant us on page and off!
sound of the last few words–;
they will be abolished and this new movement
embracing an echo,

only discovered here the poem
sustains marginality



the timing of this substitution one ideafor another
Countdown!knuckle on the hand
illustrates itselftames–

the sentence covering it

with a fist, held loftily–

muscular control . . . fastidiousness

continual restiveness, also

timing supplant strong attack

struggle necessary–but not to let go



a blissful discontinuity
orders this estrangement of each

available word and the disinclination to advance (at
that point in time) or desiretohurry toward an abrupt

rushing or spectacular jumps over the hurdles–

as in conversation
do not hurry the poem

but take chances

motion, movement in poem


an advanced punctuation bursting from vases

into an arena of sound
the aroma continues as a cloud of invisibility shelters

ghost exiting

there from center right:solid objects merciless.


what else can poem perform in its arena

of possibilities

the phantom of possible ideas


(maneuvering inside a volume)

a force majeure to shred the atmosphere
this fist its imprint almost

poet in charge


and all the whilemovement coalescing
with the strict idea

Startling these maneuvers!

of idea and erasure.

not to lose sight of the ideas, and movement they must meet

not to tell all possible choices in poem

1 comment:

  1. PS The first three lines of the Guest text should be two. They came up wrong and I can't seem to fix them.

    M-L: Can the boxes be deleted somehow?



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