Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Jim Leftwich: I am looking for examples of a certain kind of thinking about poetry which, if pursued to its logical extremes, would eventually include considerations of asemic and/or desemantized writing.

Jim Leftwich: I am looking for examples of a certain kind of thinking about poetry which, if pursued to its logical extremes, would eventually include considerations of asemic and/or desemantized writing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet (1842):

The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought. Why covet a knowledge of new facts? Day and night, house and garden, a few books, a few actions, serve us as well as would all trades and all spectacles. We are far from having exhausted the significance of the few symbols we use. We can come to use them yet with a terrible simplicity. It does not need that a poem should be long. Every word was once a poem. Every new relation is a new word. Also, we use defects and deformities to a sacred purpose, so expressing our sense that the evils of the world are such only to the evil eye.

Denise Levertov, Some Notes on Organic Form (1965)

Form is never more than a revelation of content.

“The law—one perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception” (Edward Dahlberg, as quoted by Charles Olson in “Projective Verse,” Selected Writings). I’ve always taken this to mean, “no loading of the rifts with ore,” because there are to be no rifts. Yet alongside this truth is another truth (that I’ve learned from Duncan more than from anyone else)—that there must be a place in the poem for rifts too—(never to be stuffed with imported ore). Great gaps be­tween perception and perception which must be leapt across if they are to be crossed at all.

The X-factor, the magic, is when we come to those rifts and make those leaps. A religious devotion to the truth, to the splendor of the authentic, involves the writer in a process re­warding in itself; but when that devotion brings us to un­dreamed abysses and we find ourselves sailing slowly over them and landing on the other side—that’s ecstasy.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson:
April 16, 1862: I took [Emily Dickinson's letter of the previous day] from the post office in Worcester, Mass., where I was then living. It was postmarked "Amherst," and it was in a handwriting so peculiar that it seemed as if the writer might have taken her first lessons by studying the famous fossil bird-tracks in the museum of that college town. 

envelope, circa. 1877

Gertrude Stein, In a conversation with John Hyde Preston which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1935

You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought, but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and if you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition. You won't know how it was, even what it is, but it will be creation if it came out of the pen and out of you and not out of an architectural drawing of the thing you are doing.

Arthur Rimbaud,  Letter To Georges Izambard (13 May 1871)

I'll be a worker: that is the idea that holds me back when mad rage drives me toward the battle of Paris where so many workers are still dying while I write to you. As for my working now, never, never; I'm on strike. 
Now I am going in for debauch.Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working to make myself a visionary: you won't possibly understand, and I don't know how to explain it to you. To arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses, that's the point. The sufferings will be tremendous, but one must be strong, be born a poet: it is in no way my fault. It is wrong to say: I think. One should say: I am thought.
I is someone else. So much the worse for the wood that discovers it's a violin, and to hell with the heedless who cavil about something they know nothing about!

Arthur Rimbaud, letter to Paul Demeny, Charleville (15 May 1871)

I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The Poet makes himself a seer by a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses. All forms of love, suffering, and madness. He searches himself. He exhausts all poisons in himself and keeps only their quintessences. Unspeakable torture where he needs all his faith, all his super-human strength, where he becomes among all men the great patient, the great criminal, the one accursed– and the supreme Scholar!–Because he reaches the unknown!

Hannah Weiner,  "If Workshop", Poetry Project Newsletter, February-March 1990:

If you are a poet would you have the three obligations: work on yourself to become more conscious, work in the world to change it free and equal, include ecological survival, and work in poetic forms that themselves alter consciousness.
techniques of disjunctive, non-sequential, non-referential, writing can directly alter consciousness, whether by destroying long habits of rationality, by surprise tactics to which the brain responds differently, or by forcing a change to alpha level by engaging both hemispheres of the brain, choose your science.

Jean Arp, Dadaland (1948):

In 1915 Sophie Taeuber and I painted, embroidered, and did collages; all these works were drawn from the simplest forms and were probably the first examples of "concrete art."  These works are Realities, pure and independent, with no meaning or cerebral intention.  We rejected all mimesis and description, giving free rein to the Elementary and the Spontaneous.  Since the arrangement of planes and their proportions and colors seemed to hinge solely on chance, I declared that these works were arranged "according to the law of chance," as in the order of nature, chance being for me simply a part of an inexplicable reason, of an inaccessible order.

Jean Arp, Dadaland (1948) :

I would meet with Tzara and Serner at the Odéon and in Zurich's Café de la Terrasse to work on a cycle of poems: The Hyperbola of the Crocodile-Hairdresser and the Cane.  This kind of verse was subsequently dubbed "Automatic Poetry" by the surrealists.  Automatic poetry emerges directly from the poet's guts or any other organ that has stored up reserves.  Neither the Postilion of Longjumeau, nor the Alex- andrine, nor grammar, nor aesthetics, nor Buddha, nor the Sixth Commandment could interfere.  The poet crows, curses, sighs, stutters, yodels at will.  His poems are like nature: they stink, laugh, and rhyme like nature.  Trivia, or at least what people call trivia, are as precious to him as sublime rhetoric, for in nature a broken twig is as beautiful and as important as a star, and it is men who arrogate for themselves the right to judge what is beautiful or ugly.

(from KS): Adrienne Rich, Poetry and Experience (1964):
Today I have to say that what I know I know through making poems. Like the novelist who finds that his characters begin to have a life of their own and to demand certain experiences, I find that I can no longer go to write a poem with a neat handful of materials and express those materials according to a prior plan: the poem itself engenders new sensations, new awareness in me as it progresses. Without for one moment turning my back on conscious choice and selection, I have been increasingly willing to let the unconscious offer its materials, to listen to more than one voice of a single idea. Perhaps a simple way of putting it would be to say that instead
of poems about experiences I am getting poems that are experiences, that contribute to my knowledge and my emotional life even while they reflect and assimilate it. In my earlier poems I told you, as precisely and eloquently as I knew how, about something; in the more recent poems something is happening, something has happened to me and, if I have been a good parent to the poem, something will happen to you who read it.