Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. — Lao Tzu
I write to explain things to myself. — Helen Vendler
“Literary history, at least as far as race in America is concerned, is stuck, and the doctrine of separate but equal has to be overturned again and again, with every book published. If the doctrine were dead, then it would be common knowledge that Robert Hayden is at least as remarkable a poet as Robert Lowell, or that the Hugheses—Ted and Langston—run about even; or that it would be ignorant of a young poet to study Elizabeth Bishop to the exclusion of Rita Dove, or vice versa. It would also finally be possible to assess the claim that Amiri Baraka’s work—his early work as LeRoi Jones, anyway—outdoes them all. “
—Davis, Jordan. “One of the Various: On Thomas Sayers Ellis.” January 3, 2011. http://www.thenation.com/article/157169/one-various-thomas-sayers-ellis (accessed ).
In the light of this subtly contextualized critique, writers who, in postmodern, ‘over-sophisticated’ cultures, no longer write to be understood, who indeed write in the expectation that they will not only not be understood but will actually be venerated by sedulous critics and readers for their incomprehensibility, such writers have lost any value to the attempts to understand and engage the important issues of social inequality, gender oppression, individual alienation, and widespread moral and spiritual confusion and perplexity in our age. — Jeyifo, Biodun. Perspectives On Wole Soyinka: Freedom and Complexity. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi , 2001.
Beauty (should you choose to use the word that way) is deep, not superficial; hidden, sometimes, rather than obvious; consoling, not troubling; indestructible, as in art, rather than ephemeral, as in nature. Beauty, the stipulatively uplifting kind, perdures. — Susan Sontag, “An Argument About Beauty,” At The Same Time: Essays And Speeches, ed. Paolo Dilonardo, Anne Jump (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007), 4.
John Ashbery says that he would never begin to write a poem under the force of inspiration or with an idea already given. He prefers to wait until he has absolutely nothing to say, and then begins to find words and to sort them out and to associate with them. He likes to have the poem occur on the occasion of its occurrence rather than to be the result of some inspiration or imposition from the outside. Now I think that’s a brilliant point of view. That’s not the way I work. I’ve always been highly energized and have written poems in spurts. From the god-given first line right through the poem. And I don’t write two or three lines and then come back the next day and write two or three more; I write the whole poem at one sitting and then come back to it from time to time over the months or years and rework it. — A. R. Ammons
The making of poetry is something of a freak show. The poet must understand empathy - the process of becoming but not totally becoming, identifying with someone but not being so wrapped up that they can’t imagine a way out. As a young poet, I was worried that I was exploiting people and their lives - that they’d see themselves in my work and be offended. That was my hubris. I thought I was writing them, but I wasn’t - I was writing poems. I have absolutely no ability to reproduce these people in poems. Poems have shape and form. Their lives do not. A poem is not what a person is. - Kwame Dawes — http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/books/article/1078709/books-qa-kwame-dawes
I have two poems in the current issue of The Medulla Review. Go there…enjoy!