Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Post of Many Poet's Journal Posts

It's time to post regularly.

I thought I would start with some poet's journal posts, most of which will come from a notebook I did for a poetry class in college (2006). I am partially copying my friend John May, whose autodidactic tendencies are both admirable and inspiring. His knowledge, poems, and explications are constantly growing. Please visit his blog. He does good work.

Between the old journal, the inspiration, and of course further readings on my own time, I hope to add to the conversation, or at least post tidbits here for me to revisit as I need or want to or can. Part of this blog then will be a poetry journal that I can access and share online.

I do hope that others will join in the conversation, post their thoughts, write their own posts, share their work, and on and on. I miss the classes, the friends, conversations, and the workshops. Here's hoping I retrieve back some of which I crave.

I wanted to start out with this, a quick essay over the question of whether poetry need be accessible. I would love to hear your thoughts. I see a couple of slippery slopes down there. I didn't edit them out because I'd love to be argued with. ;) Peace and junk:

Accessible Poetry First

"Poetry is knowledge, salvation, power, abandonment. 
The poem is a shell that echoes the music of the world."
--Octavio Paz.

The most potent poetry is universal. It communicates. Its aim is to translate abstractions and the human experience into language. It translates the subconscious, memory, sensual experiences and emotions through images, allusions, and a poet's perception. When a poem is inaccessible, it alienates the reader, guaranteeing a lack of connection between the reader and the poet. There is no communication. Many poets argue that they have a duty to connect with readers. Sylvia Plath for example, states that "one should be able to manipulate [their experiences] with an informed and intelligent mind...personal experience shouldn't be a kind of shut box and mirror-looking narcissistic. should be generally relevant to such things as Hiroshima and Dachau...[things that others can relate to directly or indirectly]" (Alvarez).

Inaccessible poetry can offer grand mind games. It can send readers on scholastic scavenger hunts through dusty library book shelves and obscure articles in databases, as in the case of many of Ezra Pound's or T.S. Eliot's. The readers of such works will surely become smarter and more experienced. However, for those looking to solely connect, inaccessible poetry is a kill shot which can shock a reader from ever trying poetry again. William Carlos Williams states, in his poem "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," that though "It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there."

This statement suggests that poetry is an extremely important medium for the understanding of things that are difficult to talk about or understand. Poetry approaches life's questions and though it does not always succeed in finding answers, it tries. It sends the message that the trying is worth the effort. In Poetry's search for understanding, it dually aids others in their own search as they read. To obscure the message in poems for the sake of being elite is to shirk the Poet's duty and to greedily hoard the message for a select number. It is a tactic that can make the way too difficult for readers uninterested in scholastic exercises. Elitism suggests that one must become a person of letters in order to understand the work. Any reader communing with poetry wants to be touched by it. If it is not understood, it is difficult to feel anything. 

Work Cited: Alvarez, A. Sylvia Plath. Beyond All This Fiddle. London: Penguin, 1968. pp. 56-7.

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