Fiddled, diddled, breakfasted, counted the dust. I truly must ditch the domestic and apply myself to poetry that is …. ‘the sense that at its best, it is the closest language gets to evolving the whole the indivisible nature of being alive’. Well – it all sounds very delightful and even probable but what Adler called the demand of the object keeps intruding. Only so much dust, only so many frozen dinners left in the freezer…only. So we stumble on believing ourselves to be poets but finding all possible means of not being one on the way.
I am tempted to look for a wonderful cartoon from the Guardian years ago and to translate it into:
I think I’ll put a comma
I should have put comma
I shouldn’t have put a comma
Just lately I seem to spend all my time fiddling at this level, moving sheets of paper between the lovely colourful cardboard files I bought in the supermarket, changing the label from ‘To send out’ to ‘To revise (3)’
Anyway provided this pastes into Opsimathpoet I hope that the breakup of solid text will help opsimathreaders. (Woops – it didn’t copy!)
The problem with revision is that it creates real dilemmas of meaning and then all the underlying musical tropes and trills. I like lopping off the branches but then suddenly find that I have lopped off the intrinsic meaning of the whole poem. Perhaps it gets easier as one learns more, writes more, revises more.
I realised this morning that three years ago I had never heard of Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop or John Burnside and I had heard of but never read W.S.Graham. Now these icons of poetry are so sustaining and enriching I can’t imagine what life might have been without them.
The Poetry Retreat at Le Moulin starts on Tuesday morning. I still haven’t decided whether to be a travelling poet or to stay and retreat in situ. I need the proximity and input of poets, can’t wait to see Penny Shuttle and Caroline Carver again and be able to talk commas with them. This morning read Sightings again (Kathleen Jamie) – I am saving it up so I only read one section a day. It is good for the sense of commas – spare, nothing diverting or extraneous and yet a wonderful evocation of place and happenings. It is good to be thinking of what to take to read at the retreat – I am inclined to Fiona Sampson (3rd time), Maitreyabandhu (his two pieces on Spirituality and Poetry in Poetry review) and Don Patterson’s horrendously difficult The Domain of the Poem. Then I have been saving up Ha Noi 2,000 and I have a lot to think about (and hopefully a picky audience to help me with the pruning job). I have had really helpful writing about Vietnam from Isobel who went there some years ago – more dialogue about it to follow I hope.
I am going to reference this so that my friend June in Canada can follow up poets if she wants and also to remind myself of the things that have fallen into my opsimath lap.
*Wallace Stevens: Collected poems plus letters, journal and some of his writing about poetry are all in the Library of America’s Wallace Stevens: Collected Poems and Prose
* Elizabeth Bishop: Complete Poems Chatto Poetry; The Collected Prose Chatto and Windus; Anne Stevenson’s ‘Five Looks at Elizabeth Bishop’ Bloodaxe and the absolutely wonderful and inspiring Exchanging Hats which is a collection of her paintings (June you will love these)
*W.S. Graham: The Collected Poems: Faber and Faber
*The Nightfisherman: Collected Letters of W.S.Graham
*Penelope Shuttle: Redgrove’s Wife: Bloodaxe
Sandgrain and Hourglass: Bloodaxe (latest)
*Caroline Carver: Tiki Tiki Man; Ward Wood (latest)
*Kathleen Jamie The Tree House: Picador
Findings: Sort of Books
Sightings: Sort of Books (latest)
*John Burnside Black Cat Bone: Cape Poetry (latest)