Tuesday 12 August 2008

Worn edges

Wrote and wrote till late afternoon yesterday, two new poems, and another one revised after feedback from Elizabeth.

Showed them to P. He liked the long one which is called Red, and about the short one which has two stanzas, he said that the first stanza was kitsch and the second schmaltz. That became immediately obvious. He also said that the metaphor in stanza one was too remote from the reality described in stanza two. Same comment as Elizabeth about another poem. Hopefully I shall not need to repeat this error in the future. Need to work at being more slant-y, as in Emily Dickinson's Tell it slant. The metaphor in this case needs to be integrated into the story, and less fuss made of it, just pursuing it as I go along, little reminders. At least, that's the thinking behind it, Bill.

Read The Vigil, a book of poems by a most amazing American poet called C.K. Williams (1997, Bloodaxe Books, UK). My attention was initially caught by the cover: reproduction of a Rembrandt, Woman with a fan, a black background, she is young-ish and mysterious, smiling a little. The fan is only half open, and held as if she's forgotten about it, I don't know its meaning. It's probably his Saskia, there seems to be a lot of love in that portrait.


About the writing: Every one of C.K. Williams' poems hits home, there is an original thought in each of them which you may recognise as something you might have thought fleetingly yourself, but not been able to catch and show the way he has. A poignant one for instance, when he hears his wife in the next room, she is reading to their son, and he suddenly has an insight into what his life might be like in the future, if he was to be without them for some reason:

"...either one of them would be enough..."

His language is mostly ordinary, his lines always long. He has a masterful poem describing a death, long and involved, and surprising but not so that you say how amazing, it just takes you along and rolls you around until it's over.

My favourite is called My Fly, dedicated to his friend Erving Goffman - I feel a duty to mention this, because the poem is about Erving - this great garishly emerald fly, whom he imagines is

"...a messenger from you, or that you yourself (you'd howl at this),/
ten years afterwards have let yourself be incarnated as this pestering anti-/

and later:

"...- maybe it is you!"

Joy! To be together, even for a time! Yes, tilt your fuselage, turn it/
towards the light
aim the thousand lenses of your eyes back up at me: how I've missed/
the layers of your attention..."

I am tired and a little worn at the edges today. I left my diary at someone's house over the week end and shall only be able to retrieve it tomorrow.

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