Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pay attention

Is an explanation more useful than the object itself? Certainly not when it comes to poetry, otherwise we get.

"The eight-line poem frustrates expectations about poetry. It stands like a small aside, a voice suggesting in rather emphatic terms, 'so much depends upon,' that the seemingly simple, often overlooked elements of life are what really matters. In fact, the short aside is akin to the wheelbarrow and 'white chickens' in the poem--essential, but easily ignored. Pay attention, the speaker advises, to the ordinary, to the quotidian."

But how many have had to turn to an exegesis to decipher what is probably Williams' most straightforward work?

Do poets have some mental faculty that makes them more able to derive some kind of satisfaction from a series of words without a literal meaning? Maybe poets are predisposed to appreciate the conceptual aspect of writing and the spatial aspects of poetry because of their biology? I prefer Stevens to Williams whatever that means. There's nothing like a good cigar. No one needs to explicate that. I think Frank O'Hara had it right "But how can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what?"