Saturday, July 30, 2011

What are poets concerned about?

They take up their sharpest pen to battle phrases that are over-used and thus we read with half our attention. They guard against their own excesses, whether they be phrases that sound too pretty, draw too much attention to themselves, or are too perfect. They are wary of invention without discovery, and seek always to differentiate.

They struggle to go beyond their own bound definitions, to destroy their own habitual modes of thinking and writing. They like to live with the questions awhile.

They wrestle with the music of language, and the music of their own breath. They work with light and shadow, outside and inside, and they know in whose poets' shadows they walk, following the light. They have muses from above or below, angels or demons, handing them either gift or curse.

They think about the line, about the sentence. They think about the space, the pauses in between words and breaths. They excavate meaning, brushing away dirt and rocks, and recreate from the bones some richer language. They make words earn their keep. Or resurrect them from near-death.

They dance, allude and elude. They like leaping. They pay attention; they pay and they pay. They are involved in making, in moving, in transforming. And they take up their responsibilities like a bagful of rocks, heaving it up on their shoulders as they walk. They like taking walks.