Last Post, My Death on (Why?)


Hard to read — so here’s a transcript (but read carefully, the words that got me banned are delicate). And the lights went out within minutes, and I remain banned to this day. WHY?

That’s beautiful, Noldo, that’s a much better way to say it than I did.

Like “Zen in the Art of Archery.” The physics of the action is easy, and the equipment uncomplicated. The problem lies in our separation from the trajectory of the arrow, and to reconnect with that we have to work very hard for years to recover the simplicity of the original flight.

Or meditation as the shoe we wear so that one day the foot can touch the ground–I used that image before, I think. Or what I wrote to you just above about Yeats, Frost and Neruda–“To say [such work] is obvious is not to say it’s easy, God forbid–how they worked for it to arrive at such generous transparency!”

My argument is that some poetry today is more difficult than it needs to be because our teachers model difficulty as a virtue. Because who would pay that much money to a teacher that just kept handing out three sprigs of green and a small pot to arrange them in each day year after year after year? And if the teacher got the job without knowing how to place those three sprigs in the pot in the first place? Why, that teacher would talk up a storm to make it look as if the transformation were taking place anyway, and then define it in terms that nobody could understand without his or her or a colleague’s professional help.

And then publish it, give it a prize, make that a big credit, raise the bar even higher, gather everybody together in a mansion in the Berkshires for the weekend to explain how it works–and if you’re still willing even then, and sound right, of course, you’re in!

But how’s your poetry? How has it fared?

That’s the risk, you see, Noldo. Deliberate obfuscation is the danger–pretension, convolution, boutique spectacle and speciosity, all of which I would say are just the opposite of the sort of rigorous study you’re talking about which whittles and pares down to the bone and beyond like the artist in Ted Hughes’ “Thrushes!”.

And are prosodists like Kaltica part of that problem, Noldo, or TomWest? Well, let’s hear from them about that.

Or Jorie Graham herself, or Joan Houlihan or Jeffrey Levine, all three of whom I feel certain are following this thread. Our trend setters in the editing and publishing of poetry in America today. Let’s hear from them.


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