Monday, October 19, 2009

Towards The Within

I wanted to write a little note about how much I enjoyed Don Domanski’s essay “Poetry and the Sacred” in Arc 61 that came out last year. The ideas of mindfulness and of poetry as a transcendent act are concerns found in my own work, especially in the poems from my last book The Cold Panes of Surfaces, but such ideas can sometimes fall on deaf ears.

Nowadays, poets of my particular vintage divide their time between writing poems and puffing themselves up on their web pages, or padding their CVs, or else writing the now ubiquitous snark, see here and here, that tears down the work of some senior poet in this country, the mythological implications of such attacks, it seems, totally lost on them.

It is also disheartening to find so many young people now concerned with only the surface effects of poetry, as if a poem is nothing more than a kind of puzzle or arithmetic equation that can be easily solved by counting syllables or by employing a formal rhyme scheme. What is even more troubling is to see how many are overly concerned with their own sense of prominence. Unfortunately, our culture encourages such poets by telling them it is far better to be a face on a billboard, an image in a magazine, or a name on a page than a flesh and blood person quietly concerned with the long standing relationships between the spiritual and the corporeal, consciousness and reality, imagination and metaphor.

I expect it is no wonder we have raised a generation of young poets now happily posing for photos with microphones in hand and indulging in all manners of poetic trappings without ever exploring in any truly meaningful fashion those hidden sources that animate our lives and our poetry. In fact, a good many of them would ridicule this very idea for it has become quite fashionable to do so.

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