"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, April 19, 2010


This is still a running blog, but my thoughts are in a strange place just now.

Coprighted section:

Poetry expresses with words what cannot be said in words. The impossibility of its task is its charm. It should not be easily understood. It may be ambiguous; it may reveal shades of meaning. It may point to different truths, depending upon the reader. Its truth should be evolutionary and never completed.

Poetry takes risks and it goes to extremes. It may not make sense in the manner that prose does, using a logic of its own design. A rigid plan and fidelity to custom are anathema to poetry. The joy of unexpected juxtapositions, the beauty of precarious balance and the flight of reason are indispensable to it.

Poetry is partial: it cajoles, it extols, it cares very deeply. It might change its views and opinions, but believes continuously.

Poetry is not natural, though it often uses nature as its source and inspiration. It may try to mislead, to mask the truth, revealing its beauty in its failure to deceive.

Poetry should not be calm. It can describe tranquility or the promise of relief, but it should lead the eye from line to line in fits and starts as the reader digests it. It should be anticipatory and heedless.

Poetry need not be kind. It can be unrelenting. It can be self-serving or indulgent. It is subjective and personal.

Poetry is not social. A poet may recite to an audience, but the poem is hermetic. Poetry stands alone, away from the ridicule to which it opens itself.

Contrary to popular belief, poetry should not be pleasant, or it becomes doggerel. It should challenge the reader to think and to feel. It is an agent of change.


I am my poetry.

After today's workout, my blisters look like bubble wrap filled with cherry Kool-aid. It's a start.

Today's quote: "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - Dylan Thomas


Diana said...

"bubble wrap filled with cherry kool-aid"......
I like that. It describes my hands after a kettlebell workout!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I like the villanelle format. Joyce has Stephen Dedalus use it (Are you not weary of ardent ways?) as SD's first quoted full expression of poetic artistry near the end of APOTAAAYM.

The Dylan Thomas villanelle you quote is a great example of the form.

SteveQ said...

@G: Plath and Roethke have villanelles that I like a lot. The form has a sort of sing-song quality, but I don't mind it at all. Thomas wouldn't let that poem be published until after his father's death (the subject matter), because he didn't want him to see it. That Thomas himself died of alcohol poisoning in New York City taints the poem just a bit.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Just realized ... isn't it "do not go gentle into" etc.?

ShutUpandRun said...

mmmmmm...cherry kool aid.

sea legs girl said...

Well, I like your poem about poetry. And I like the form it is in, even though when I read Glaven's comment I thought he wrote "vanilla" instead of "villanelle". It was a long time ago and a land far away when I was an English lit major.

But I keep thinking about that line you wrote "poetry is not social". But didn't the whole art form of poetry begin for social reasons? Sure socially frustrated people tend to love poetry and be good at it, but poems typically aren't written just for the own author's enjoyment. Are they? Anyway. I still really like it.

SteveQ said...

G: You are, of course, right. I was so focused on not typing "dark" night rather than "good" night - an error I often make - that I messed up there. Correction forthcoming...

SteveQ said...

@SLG: Poetry is supposed to have begun as a way to recite long stories, the meter and rhyme giving hints as to what the next line should be. My thought was more along the line of separating the work from the author and also that criticism makes no sense without an understanding of the poet's intent - which is why I think a manifesto is needed.

RBR said...

I hate when your posts make me remember JUST how philistine I am.

I want to be the girl that gets poetry and sees the complexity and despair ('cuz really are they ever a happy little diddy? Most poets bite the big one at their own hand) but, alas, I am not.


I feel rather doggerel and like an anathema to the beauty of this post. (hey, at least I got two new words out of it. Ok, 3 if you count villanelle, but G is kind of ringer and, shit, who knows what villanelle IS much less how to recognize it?!)

I do have this somewhat masochistic love of your blog. I must come here for my daily dose of self-flagellation, "RBR you not only run slower than slug snot, you are as dumb as a bag of hair."

You do you sort all of your recyclables and bake your own fucking bread too? Sheesh. Posting a flaw or two once in a while wouldn't kill you.

p.s. The Dylan Thomas quote is one of my favs. Maybe because I spent so much time trying to extinguish the light.

SteveQ said...

RBR: Happy little ditty?
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wildflower
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour." - William Blake

Most poets don't commit suicide. Robert Frost was a happy, well-adjusted guy. Thomas Hardy, too.

My favorites, however, all seem to have been alcoholics.