Sunday, November 7, 2010

Networked Language & Poetry...


I am reading Phillip Mead's Networked Language, a book that explores Australian poetry through specific examples with a focus on language and context, rather than say sketching a broad history or examining a specific poetic movement etc. etc.

I wanted to share just a few short quotes that I enjoyed:

"... poems are patterns of words that are crystallised out of subjective linguistic and socio-cultural solutions that are supersaturated with their own histories, forms and ideologies." (2).

"... poetry draws as much of its life as language from the social and historical strata it is networked to, as from the aesthetic traditions of poetic production." (6)

"... what poetry has taught me, if you like - is that the reason human beings often seem to like poetic language is because they are attracted to all forms of complexity." (6)

I especially love that last one, the idea that we are drawn to complexity. I have also been reading Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Traveled, his wonderful witty, charming and elegant book about poetry. Fry believes that one should savor poetry like wine and take a poem to bed with you and read and reread it in order to enjoy it more deeply. Even single lines can be enjoyed over and over again. Here is one of my favorite little poems:

Separation

BY W. S. MERWIN

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

For a longer poem to take to bed with you try Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Populist Manifesto No. 1.

Why do you think people read poetry - or write it for that matter? Do you agree with Mead that poems are subjective and historical and that their allure comes from their complexity? I had never really thought about being drawn to complexity before reading Mead, I had always thought more along the lines of enjoying words and appreciating the work of a talented wordsmith. Will think more on this.


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