February 22, 2004

The Weather of Words: Poetic Invention
Mark Strand

5 Observations from a Modern Master -- (1) "Words in a novel are subordinate to broad slices of action or characterization that push the plot forward. In a poem, they are the action ... (A poem) encourages slowness, urges us to savor each word. It is in poetry that the power of language is most palpably felt. But in a culture that favors speed-reading along with fast food, ten-second news bites, and other abbreviated forms of ingestion, who wants something that makes you slow down?" (2) "No wonder poetry was not something my parents found themselves reading for pleasure. It was the enemy. It would only remystify the world for them, cloud certainties with ambiguity, challenge their appetite for the sort of security that knowledge brings." (3) "This is the secret life of poetry. It is always paying homage to the past, extending tradition into the present." (4) "The way poetry has of setting our internal house in order, of formalizing emotion difficult to articulate, is one of the reasons we still depend on it in moments of crisis and during those times when it is important that we know, in so many words, what we are going through. I am thinking of funerals in particular, but the same is true of marriages and birthdays. Without poetry, we would have either silence or banality ..." (5) "... discussions of craft are at best precarious. We know only afterwards what it is we have done."


Post a Comment

<< Home