Saturday, April 02, 2005

Do you read poetry?

Currently reading: Visible Signs: New and Selected Poems by Lawrence Raab.

I wish I could write like this. No one can end a poem like Raab:

A Crow
by Lawrence Raab

Here is the strict, abstract
light of winter. From a bare branch
a crow takes flight, rising
heavily, overcoming
the impossible. Snow
sifts from its branch.
A white shawl.
Thousands of separate flakes.
The bird has moved to another tree,
cawing harshly, though I can
barely hear it, with the windows
locked in place against
the cold. So the mind
remains at a distance
from its concerns,
its uncertain desires—
nothing to think of, or to say,
nothing truly seen until later.

He somehow inserts a wonderful inflection to his poetry. It is almost conversational. But then he’ll lend a magical insight or observation. It’s such a talent.

I know a lot of people who write poetry, but very few people who actually read it. I have always wondered who these writers think they will have as an audience, and how they expect to improve or diversify.

I know, I know... most poets will tell you, “I write for myself.” But as soon as you commit pen to paper, it becomes something else. It is “out there.” (For lack of a better phrase...) It is then owned by whoever reads and interprets it. All we can do, as poets, is attempt to convey.

I read this in an interview with Raab:
“I hope students signing up for a creative writing class in poetry are already interested in poetry. But frequently they're not particularly interested in reading poetry, only in writing it, which leads me to believe that they're not really interested in writing poetry, only in expressing themselves in some vague way. You learn by reading. You want to do what you enjoy experiencing. A good poem, I think, is one that you want, almost immediately, to reread. Not because you have to for a class, but because there's a richness there that draws you back. I try to find ways to get my students to experience that richness, the dazzling presence of it in great poems, the resonant possibility of it in their own work.”


More of Raab's genius.

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