Distribution Automatique

Saturday, July 9

Poetry as Thinking

Interesting discussion right now on

Bemsha Swing {click here}
What Kasey seems to be suggesting is that
Jonathan is preaching to the
choir-and that, in some ways, all contemporary
poetry readers are basically in that choir already.

Whether or not poetry is a kind of thinking
(what happened to feeling-or imagining- or pretending- or
listening?) for the readers Jonathan is talking about-
poetry must- like any kind of verbal construct- be
understandable- or better yet, be completely decipherable;
the poet is creating- or miming- or evoking- a system,
hopefully a unique one, but one that in the best cases is
reducible to that which is always already present in the
world's knowledge base. In other words, these readers would
completely agree that poetry is a form of thinking- but thinking
that is eminently decipherable or decodable as must be any
form of *rational* thinking. Otherwise it is nonsense-
or worse yet, irrational nonsense.

For Wittgenstein, I see that poetry and
music create a kind of language.

He says [in *Zettel*]: "A poet's words can pierce us. And
that is of course *causally* connected with the
use that they have in our life. And it is also connected
with the way in which, comfortably to this use, we let
our thoughts roam up and down in
the familiar surroundings of the words."

For me, the key word here is *familiar.*

Without doubt, I would side with the group that
considers poetry a form of thinking-
But I want more.
I enjoy it most when poetry strives to
create a context in which readers-
in attending to the process of connecting with the poems-
also feel emboldened to construct their own modes of thinking, that
is - to further develop the ability- and the desire: *to think for oneself.*
For me, poetry is one crucial jumping off point in that pursuit- but
not the only one- or even necessarily the most effective one
sometimes. Although I've participated in a couple of schools
of poetry myself- including for awhile- the latter day New York School-
i am apparently not quite as interested as Jonathan might be- at the present
time anyway-
in school construction and maintenance
or poetry career construction and maintenance, for
that matter. This hierarchy-building and
team-building stuff sometimes gets on my nerves,
quite frankly. Poets
need schools because "no one listens to poetry."
But poetry school membership can exact
a painful price-especially in the
thinking for oneself department.

Thinking for oneself is not as easy as it sounds.
Some might picture this idea
as a kind of pragmatism, or rationality.
What I am getting at is efficacy in an attempt to encompass
all of one's experience-the world's experience-as it unfurls-
by extending the parameters of the limits of one's
understanding- which invariably comes around to
including self-transformation- the willingness to
accept change-particularly difficult change-
the essence of learning. I wish I could state
this a little less pretentiously- but sheez, it's
2:45 am!
Gustaf Sobin dead at 70

Some work was published in

Facture 1 {click here}

Boston Review {click here}

Shearsman 53 {click here}

I remember
very much enjoying the gentle,
self-reflexive work published by this fine poet in
*Temblor* in the 80's.

War is the Health of the State {click here}
. Critique
of patriotic hysteria by Randolph Bourne (1918).
via wood s lot
wood s lot {click here}

Eileen Tabios has an author page at

Ahadada Books {click here}
With characteristic modesty,
she discloses the author
photo is 7 years old!