A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
Taking the state of modern poetry of the English language as we find it there can be no other conclusion than that it has become the amature circus of the arts. The popular form falsely infers from the brevity of a page or two that it is simple and easy to accomplish worthiness by stating either a personal accord with meaningful causes or an attempt at making the mundane miraculous by isolating a moment in time utilizing personal perspective;
A sunbeam on the kitchen floor
A cold cup of coffee on the table
A telephone I fear might ring
While glaciers shrink and love
Will never survive analysis
Nor good intentions
Serve noble inspirations
Unless the writer leaves his ego behind there is no travel, no breadth or depth to the line. An artist must have a healthy ego as well as the ability to sublimate it in service to the object to be created. As Ernest Hemingway put it in his Nobel acceptance speech:
"A writer does his work alone and he must face eternity or the lack of it every day...He must try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed then sometimes with good luck he will succeed."
Originality is the spice of art and poetry is a distillation of language whose potency is expressed in direct proportion to it's inherent ability to surprise. Forward motion in human affairs is accomplished by discovery of the new, the novel, simplification of that which is complicated by artificial mental constructs. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley; "Spiritual enlightenment is accessable to anyone, all that is required is discipline and sacrifice."
This is also holds for attaining poetic truth which is the spine of the poem, the nut meat inside the shell. It must be carefully placed and have the appearance of happenstance, like poetic justice. I cannot be alone in my great disappointment in contemporary poetry. Fictional prose also has suffered a failure of literary standards, perhaps for the same reason; a dilution of our collective imagination by the primacy of scientific facts that have destroyed the infinitely fascinating quality of myth, folklore and superstition. To a small child there is mystery around every corner, over every hill and behind every door. As adults we are left with the mysteries of the heart, many of which can be plumm'd and some of which can never be fully illuminated.
I fear George Orwell's prediction of the damnation of language from politics is coming true. In 1984, a newspeak lexicographer says to Winston Smith; "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage in in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. ...Do you know that newspeak is the only language that gets smaller every year?" When I hear Amerikan politicians speak I hear the ring of the ministry of truth's dictum.
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
They speak in their own language of pure subversion and such perversions of common meaning are absorbed by the media and repeated ad nauseam until simple ,direct speech is forgotten. There is a clear effort to de-educate the masses by the fascist machine and dumbing down the lingua franca is a part of policy. A Texas legislator was heard to say during a debate on education. "We don't need critical thinking to be taught in schools." We recently survived eight years of the most simple minded head of state the world has ever seen. And he was proud of his ignorance!
The beauty of the English language is, for me, it's breathtaking span of vocabulary. It's vast expanse is of such a magnitude that even the most articulate among us rarely possesses a command of the whole galaxy of words.
It allows us to frame more of human experience in speaking or writing than any other, and it is under attack.
Since poetry is the Greek chorus of our unconscious it is vital to preserve what is indispensible and, yes, most powerful, that part which propagates wonder, inspiration, innovation without desecration, and beauty intimated and touched upon without being sullied. Language evolves and change is constant but we must save it from bastardization by aiming higher, truer and with less egotism. There is no remedy for the decline of poetic integrity, one would have more luck herding cats than poets, but I believe we must not pretend that it's not happening.
Add a Comment