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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some talk of poetic craft by Mark Strand

I have been reading The Weather of Words by Mark Strand in recent days, and would like to quote some words on craft (relating to poetry, of course):

"In discussing his poem The Old Woman and the Statue, Wallace Stevens said:
While there is nothing automatic about the poem, nevertheless it has an automatic aspect in the sense that it is what I wanted it to be without knowing before it was written what I wanted it to be, even though I knew before it was written what I wanted to do.

"This is as precise a statement of what is referred to as 'the creative process' as I have ever read. And I think it makes clear why discussions of craft are at best precarious. We know only afterwards what it is we have done. Most poets, I think, are drawn to the unknown, and writing, for them, is a way of making the unknown visible. And if the object of one's quest is hidden or unknown, how is it to be approached by predictable means? I confess to a desire to forget knowing, especially when I sit down to work on a poem. The continuous transactions of craft take place in the dark. Jung understood this when he said: As long as we ourselves are caught up in the process of creation, we neither see nor understand; indeed, we ought not to understand, for nothing is more injurious to immediate experience than cognition."

from page 71, The Weather of Words by Mark Strand, Knopf, 2000

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