Monday, June 23, 2008

Poetry vs. Rhetoric

Kenneth Goldsmith raises some very tantalizing points in his sentences on conceptual writing - especially considering the fact that I have spent the the last two months working on the same poem (!). Exhausted with all these wasted hours and lines, I am literally one conceptual manifesto away from abandoning every creative impulse and poetic technique I've ever learned, then tearing up my books.


Anonymous said...

Thoreau - [replace the word 'history' with the word 'poetry']

"We should read [poetry] as little critically as we consider the landscape, and be more interested by the atmospheric tints, and various lights and shades which the intervening spaces create, than by its groundwork and composition. It is the morning now turned evening and seen in the west, -the same sun, but a new light and atmosphere. Its beauty is like the sunset; not a fresco painting on a wall, flat and bounded, but atmospheric and roving or free. In reality [poetry] fluctuates as the face of the landscape from morning to evening. What is of moment is its hue and color. Time hides no treasures; we want not its then but its now. We do not complain that the mountains in the horizon are blue and indistinct; they are the more like the heavens."

Brooks Winchell said...

Great quote Marty!
It seems like most of the talk of conceptual poetry on the web is talk of rhetoric ("groundwork and composition"), where the avant-guard theory behind the composition takes more importance than the poetry itself! And while a composition process may be interesting, creative, or enlightening, if the end result is uncreative or uninteresting, then who wants to read it? Recently, I found this poem called Eunoia by Christian Bok, which contains 5 long chapters, and each chapter uses only one vowel (ie, ch. a has only words that contain the vowel a, e has words that only contain the letter e, etc...). In theory, it is interesting, but how good could it ever be as poetry compared to say Dante's Inferno? It is really just an exercise in Rhetoric , and completely opposed, I think, to the way Thoreau advocates reading poetry in your quote.