This Ain’t No Poetry Blog, Neither

Although I take foolish pride in being linked to by real poets, as opposed to mere lovers of poetry like myself, anyone who's read my blogentry called "Why I Blog" would realize that the real purpose of this blog is to better understand myself, not merely to discuss poetry.

I started this blog to express some strong beliefs. I started by using poetry as a means of discussing political events that were unfolding, but soon realized that the only reason I would continue to write a journal would be to examine my own life, not merely to reflect on political events that irritated me but that I had little control over.

I used poetry so often because it has been one of the great loves of my life. It only seemed natural to turn to poetry in order to discover what I believe. But anyone who's read this blog for awhile, or taken a moment to examine the column on the left, would realize that I'm not going to confine my reflections to poetry.

Nor, despite appearances, am I attempting to teach poetry to the world. Occasionally, I'll admit that I find myself falling back into my familiar,but abandoned, role as teacher, but that is merely a temporary lapse, one I apologize for. If I were really attempting to teach poetry, I'm sure I would be much more circumspect about sharing my personal feelings about the poets, as I never felt it was my role to impose my personal tastes on my students. What I'm really doing is sharing my thoughts on the books as I read them.

My recent discussion of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, and my upcoming look at T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens is not an attempt to educate the public at large on four of the "great" modern poets. Instead, this study was inspired by Harold Bloom's introduction to The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, a book mentioned favorably by Jeff Ward of This Public Address awhile ago, a book that I was completely unfamiliar with. Bloom noted that Hart's poetry was, in part, a reaction to these contemporary poets.

Since it has been a considerable time since I had read these poets, and since I wasn't necessarily enamoured of them when I did read them many years ago, I decided I needed to take a long look back at them. Doing so, as noted, has raised a number of new questions that I'm still attempting to deal with.

When I finish reading Crane's book, and I always use what I'm reading as the source of my bloggish meanderings, I plan on taking on either Heller's Catch-22, which might very well be my favorite modern novel, one that seems more relevant than ever, or Sebald's novels, two novels I've never read but which intrigued me because they were suggested by Jonathon Delacour.

In addition, I'm going to be reading the poems of Cavafy, suggested by Marie of Alembic in a comment she made on an earlier entry and by someone else who unfortunately escaped the meager limits of my fast-aging memory.

9 thoughts on “This Ain’t No Poetry Blog, Neither

  1. The joy of this site for me is the personal meditation. I come here because I feel a resonance – I love poetry for the way it mediates life experience, encapsulates emotion, helps me understand what it is to be human.

    I do not have the sort of brain which delights in (or even understands) theory, philosophy. I have no interest in the latest style of critical analysis, the latest “ism”. I read poetry for that rush of recognition to the heart.

    Thank you for letting others share your journey.

  2. I’ll read Heller with you. It’s been a while since I did, and there’ve always been parts of that book that I’m quite sure sailed right over my head.

    The best books are like that. 🙂

  3. I enjoy reading your “poetry” blog because you like to read poetry. The way you come to reading these works, reminds me why I started to write in the first place.

    Years ago, I spent way too much time in various workshops with writers and critics, working poems (those of others and those of ours) to a point of spiritual exhaustion. We ploughed over each and every line of a poem until we managed to rip every word from its home in the loamy shelter of a deeper context. We talked so much about poetry and how we should read it and write it that I could no longer still my mind — something I used to need to hear my voice … the one in which to write.

    Anyway … I think of your blog, I don’t think to myself “poetry blog” — I look forward to reading about ONE reader’s adventures in the world of words!

  4. Jeeez, Shelley MUST BE depressed.

    I was trolling for a reaction from her after her blogentry this weekened.

    I’ll take “poetry” blog over “anti-war blog” any day.

  5. I admit I was only half kidding when I wrote this, Shelley.

    I sometime feel like I’m under too much pressure being classified as a “poetry blog.” I don’t want to be an “expert” on Pound or Eliot, or anybody else I write about, for that matter.

    I only want to be an expert on “who I am” and “what I think.”

    I need to “love” what I’m doing here, or, like Jonathon, I, too, am going to decide this is too much like work to continue.

  6. I understand completely Loren. It’s the words about who you are that draws us here — the poetry’s just a perk.

    As for the love of being here, weblogging, I’m not sure I do anymore. I’ll see what happens after my social software postings. Maybe I’ll be re-enthused after these.

  7. I’m thinking about your comment that Catch-22 is (perhaps) your favorite modern novel. You have the serious advantage of military experience over me. It had to color your view of the lunacy of war. But that aside, while I liked the book a lot, it seems limited to me because its particular goofiness seems to be such an outgrowth of what war induces…a kind of self-protective solipsism in most of the characters; Yossarian moving the battle lines back; Major Major pretty much an existential trope; Milo using the war to make a personal fortune. In its way, it prefigures MASH.

    So I’d offer a couple of other books that seem more accessible to the rest of us. Have you read Bellow? Henderson the Rain King? Kesey? One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a contender, I think.

    For that matter, since most of American has been suburban for about 20 years now, if it’s fair to ask that a great novel somehow render our lives for us, and if novels can be allowed to keep that role rather than surrendering it to movies, I’d offer two other books: The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. It communicates the half-witted angst of a divorced dad not sure where he is headed, a predicament familiar to more than half of Americans these days.

    I am also tempted to offer Tom McGuane’s Nobody’s Angel or Keep the Change, both well-written, but perhaps they don’t rise to the epic level of Heller’s book. I’m tempted to name Walker Percy’s Love Among the Ruins. Others would say Moviegoer, but I liked Ruins better as a study of ennui. A few women I know would offer Angle of Repose (Stegner), but I didn’t connect with it. I loved A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, but it has its limits, too. So I guess I’ll cop out and name Cheever’s Short Stories, which taken together will stand up against the best novels of most other writers.

  8. For some reason Mike’s comments broke in really odd places, so I took the liberty of reformatting them. Hopefullly he won’t be offended.

    I’ve read Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but didn’t particularly like it. A River Runs Through It was a great read, but not qutie in the same class, in my opinion. I like Bellow but not as much as Ellison’s The Invisible Man, Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle or Barth’s Giles Goat Boy

    Looks like I’ll have to do some reading to judge the others. It’ll take awhile because I sure have alot of books on my reading list.

What do you think?