I suppose my shadow-box with Mr. Silliman is also motivated by a sense of symmetry. His approach appears to me as one of the crystallizations or focal points of a general period style; and because I am (nearly, I guess) of the same generation, there seems to be a fairly clear parting of the ways.

We share an admiration for the modern poets of the early 20th century; we share an indifference toward much of the free-verse 1st-person anecdotal lyric poetry of the American 70s. But where the language poets - and related trends toward overt textuality in postmodernism - built a movement on the complete rejection of "the lyrical subject" - I move in another direction.

If it were up to me, I would rescue rather than reject the "lyric I", by drawing on the resources of tradition in a broader sense than that offered by the 20th-cent. avant-garde.

As I have argued in discussing the Chicago Critics here recently, poetry is not simply text. It is not even a mode of language, merely. As I understand it, poetry, and narrative, and drama find their mutual root in human action. The modes of literature branch from their resemblance, their re-enactment, their intellectual and aesthetic re-shaping, of thought-&-action.

Here is where a poetic style accomplishes its syntheses : people, voices, represented in very particular, recognizable landscapes and events. How different this perspective from that offered by the tortured "texts" and mannered "discourses" we know so well! Lyrics in which "speakers" address us in all strangeness - yet grounded, believable, in some sense - dramatic.

I think of an art which finds a way to harmonize with & interpret the context & conditions of the world(s) within which it exists : so that you can see & feel & recognize experiences which the language evokes.

(& one doesn't need , as far as literary-genre theoretics goes, the metaphysical overlay which is nevertheless a fundamental part of my own understanding of this : the framework which understands life and reality as theatrical in an ultimate sense. "This mighty stage", as Yeats put it. What was the interplay of gods & heroes in archaic times, transposed into the barn-floor fundament of the manger-Incarnation. Mandelstam's "deep grain-bins of faith". All the world's a stage for this Imago Dei and imitatio Christi.)

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