Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Revisions and Confusions

More revisions today as I try to prepare another set of poems for sending out. A mix of older and newer drafts, this time. This week I've been enjoying looking back on some of the poems I did five or six years ago and allowing myself to edit them aggressively. The intervening years provide the necessary distance to be merciless with those cherished lines and images.

Meanwhile, Gioia, Mason and Schoerke's Twentieth-Century American Poetics has been excellent so far, though I'm only a few poets in. This morning I read Robinson Jeffers' "Poetry, Gongorism and a Thousand Years," which was published in 1948 but retains much of its relevancy. In it he describes the intentions and methods of a hypothetical "great poet." Among the passages I find striking:
"... to put the matter more fundamentally, I believe that our man would turn away from the self-consciousness and naive learnedness, the undergraduate irony, unnatural metaphors, hiatuses and labored obscurity that are too prevalent in contemporary verse. His poetry would be natural and direct. He would have something new and important to say, and just for that reason he would wish to say it clearly. He would be seeking to express the spirit of his time (as well as all times), but it is not necessary, because an epoch is confused, that its poet should share its confusions."

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