Saturday, 16 August 2008

Blue Studio: performed in language

"We write to find what we believe and what we do not believe: there are things we believe or want to believe or think we believe that will not substantiate themselves in the concrete materials of the poem", said George Oppen.
Message-bearing poetry where the message has been fixed beforehand, not tested in the acts of language, will make me, as a reader, fly away in the other direction and hide in the eaves. One might then subscribe to the loosely projectivist idea of discovering content/as form and form/as content in the act of writing, or in the practice of writing. This is my position. But I can't be naive as all that. I know damned well that poetry is full of ideas and positions that preceded the writing of any particular poem... people have ideas, and they don't put the ideas aside when they write. So what am I talking about? Is it that the ideas are enacted or performed in language, as if discovered anew in language and structure, inside all the means and mechanisms of poetry? Yes, something like this. As if the language discovers that these ideas are 'right' - right for this poem, right here, right now. The poet forgets and then remembers. The reader may remain agnostic, or entranced... I think that the poem I want is the poet's real struggle on the page inside language, inside poetic traditions, inside ideas, inside her time and place.
from Blue Studio: Gender Arcades
Rachel Blau Du Plessis

I love this. I think I love Rachel Blau Du Plessis, feminist, scholar, poet, refuser of boundaries and assumptions (thank you, Wood s Lot!). I hope she will not prove too often too difficult for me. I seem to be coming around to some of the kind of writing and thinking that defeated me all those years ago as a student.


Lucy said...

I started reading this and felt alarmed, and then realised I was actually understanding and interested in it, despite a register I'm not at ease with or educated in. So I can't imagine you'll have too much trouble.

I liked your previous Malamud review too, and that cat looks a bit familiar!

Jean said...

Lucy, you've described my response exactly!

Dale said...

That's lovely. So exact and careful!