The Abnormal is Not Courage
The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it’s not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn’t that. Not at its best.
It was impossible, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore’s heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month’s rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.
Cartographers must continually confront the fact that there is no such thing as objective presentation. All maps…in the name of usefulness…must assume a bias. The first lie of a map—also the first lie of fiction—is that it is the truth. And a great deal of a map’s, or story’s, or poem’s authority results from its ability to convince us of its authority.— from Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi
(Source: tongueoftheworld)11 Apr # 1 month ago
Once [Roethke] said to me, that nervous undergrad who wanted the love of the world to roar out every time he put a word down, ‘Don’t worry about publishing. That’s not important.’ He might have added, only the act of writing is. It’s flattering to be told you are better than someone else, but victories like that do not endure. What endures are your feelings about your work. You wouldn’t trade your poems for anybody’s. To do that you would also have to trade your life for his, which means living a whole new complex of pain and joy. One of those per lifetime is enough.— from The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo 11 Mar # 2 months ago
“I ask you as a poet, reader, to always remember your first urges, why you wrote your first poem. Everyone is a wonderful poet up until the third grade. I saw it when I taught as a poet in the schools. The sublime coincides with the ridiculous, babble with referent, the witnessed phenomena with the combustion of name in song of dazzling appeal, of play. The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked in. Words themselves create reality through music and incantation: ‘One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.’ The profligacies of rhyme, its irrationalities bring forth new realities. The world arises from naming and naming itself is a product of hilarity, invention, fortuitous accident, the elsewhere and elsewhat and elsewho, the imagination. So too darkness, the sense of desertion, profound isolation, inadequacy, that you will never be loved enough no not ever, connect us to the primary wellsprings of poetry as children. Same as now.
Having a conversation with a couple of dreary poets a while back, I lamented how little the imagination is referred to in discussions of the merits of poetry and one said she felt the imagination played no part in her work because she certainly wouldn’t want it thought of as imaginary…[but] The imagination plays as much a part in the creation of reality as it does in the confections of the false; ‘the whims of imagination … alone [cause] real things’ (Breton). It is what we appeal to and rely on when our empirical data has proved insufficient to the case. THE HIGHEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE IMAGINATION AND THE HIGHEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE IMAGINATION IS EMPATHY and the ability to love, and if you don’t think that takes a profound part in the creation of the world, please close this book right now.”
— from The Art of Recklessness by Dean Young20 Feb # 2 months ago
— Selected notebook entries (1943-47) by Theodore Roethke. First published in Straw for the Fire (1972) and later collected in On Poetry & Craft 31 Jan # 3 months ago
O the enormous folly of words.
Move over, sensitive sad minds.
Live in a perpetual great astonishment.
2. Ya’arburnee (Arabic)— “11 More Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent” 13 Aug # 9 months ago
This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me.
from the PRESS RELEASE (1999) project, where a London gallery “corrects” language in art show announcements “grammatically and theoretically.” An example of what a recent Triple Canopy essay calls “International Art English”08 Aug # 9 months ago
How you respond to failure is the real measure of an artist, and this means nurturing the violently arrogant and overly confident monster that lurks deep inside all of us. But you have to keep that maniacal bastard out of all polite company. You feed him and nurture him and draw strength from him, but you never, ever let him out, get water on him, or feed him after midnight.— Tom Bissell, in conversation with The Rumpus 01 Aug # 9 months ago