Friday, January 20, 2006

just sounds

Katy, I am LOVING these emails! This is just wonderful, and for that I thank you!

So, where should I begin? (Always reminds me of the first line of "Love Story"; I am one of those who love the poetry of song lyrics, as sappy as that may sound. But I know that you appreciate good song lyrics, too, as evidenced by the Leonard Cohen influence.) I guess I'll begin at the end:

i'm a bit overwhelmed actually, by your response to it, or should i say your lack of ability to respond, which is even more telling.
I am impressed (though not surprised, as I think good poetry takes a lot of intelligence) by how smart and perceptive you are. Not many people can notice or even articulate the above. Bravo! And of course I don't mind the "borrowed imagery"; I find it incredibly flattering. So, thank you! (Is this getting out of hand? LOL!)

Now, back to the beginning. Yes, I think your explanation makes a lot of sense. As for the audience of poetry, do you think it can ever be but poets? That is a question I ask myself repeatedly. But even then, I sometimes think, when I'm at a reading and the cynic in me emerges, is anyone there to listen to anyone but themselves? Do we only speak to hear the sound of our own voices? (These questions are reminding me of "Sex in the City"...) I have to admit, aside from your blog, I don't read many poetry blogs; I'm not sure why. I read published poetry (and there is so much there to read), and I guess the question is larger than just blogs. I just wonder who the audience for poetry is. And is why I've recently been interested in poetry anthologies collected by NPR (the politics of poetry, well of everything, fascinates me)... But I digress.

You architecture-poetry analogy was an interesting one, though I don't think I agree with it. I think one primary difference between architecture and poetry, one that many architects tend to forget, is that architecture is ultimately a practical field. What I mean by that is that there is a client, there a program you're trying to accommodate, there are site restrictions, and financial constraints, and codes and zoning, and, and... I think a lot of architects would like to think of themselves as "artists" (if only to justify the big black ego--black only because it's the cliché dress code). Though I can certainly understand the idea of tools in poetry, I'm not really sure yet how it works, and I'd like to think that it's different from those in architecture. Like I know of the exercises techniques where you try to write in somebody else's "style" (a word I am very cautious about from architecture), but I am dubious of them, perhaps because I don't really understand how they work.

The other thing that I was, hmm, suspicious about is the primacy of sound (it's like the formalist argument in architecture). I am, or I'd like to think of myself, as a very content-driven person. I don't disregard the form or the sound completely, but I think of it as secondary. I think what is primary to me is the image and associations in poetry, and ultimately the idea, if there is one. Like "the pull down at the corner of a bed spread" is far from being "just sounds" to me; it is an image of care, and therefore of love. Of meticulousness, perhaps of control, or just a reminiscence of a time in our lives when someone took care of us. And I feel that it means at least some of that for you, too. No?

Ah, well, my lunch hour is up. Back to work!

Take care, and stay warm in this godawful cold!

a s h . r a f

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