So let's think for a minute about poetry in its aspect as a kind of effort contributed, along with other kinds of work, toward making civilization.

I imagine sort of a double-edged phenomenon : on the one hand, an aesthetic experience; on the other, a kind of contribution toward understanding.

The poet is a sort of companion presence, offering persuasive summations or interpretations of what everyone is experiencing.

& in order to do that, the poet has to negotiate between poetry and everything else, between poetry and not-poetry.

So there is an internal world of pure poetry, pure artistic experience, and then there is poetry as it acts (verbally, interpretively) on reality.

It's not easy to find that productive boundary-state, between poetry & not-poetry, between the world of poets & poetry-lovers, and the ordinary world, the larger world.

It seems to involve a special dramatic gift : of engagement, of empathy, of expression.

Sometimes it seems there are so many forces, both within & outside the "poetry world", which militate against finding that boundary-state.

The insatiable hunger for words & verbalizing & books - this mania itself can isolate us from the ordinary world of not-poetry. The glut & the over-saturation & the jadedness & finally the tastelessness of it all.

The obsession with poetry as a career, or as a playing field for literary politics, or as an arena for over-subtle internal critiques : these tend to obscure its aspect as a vocation in the midst of all the other civilization-making activities.

It seems to me, today anyway, that precisely how a poet, or a generation of poets, negotiates this paradoxical boundary area, is a key factor in determining the choices which undergird a literary style.

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