Gerald So asked me to comment about the experience of being in LINEUP #4, or on why I wrIte poetry, or how it differs from fiction. Here’s what I managed to dig up from the sludge of my confusion on such issues.
Why write poetry?
Poetry keeps you humble. It keeps you honest.
Nowhere are words—or intentions—more naked than in a poem.
A poem is like a new lover, one you don't yet quite trust. She lulls you, tricks you, brings you up short. Tells you exactly what you need to know, but don't really want to hear. Which is why you're crazy about her.
Poems are pools in which everything is deceptively clear, all the way to the dark cold bottom.
A poem reminds you that it’s not just the devil but the divine that’s in the details. Small things are sacred—just by being there. Or vanishing. Because sometimes a poem resembles the lost thing that one curious morning you come across where you least expected it. And sometimes almost wish you hadn't.
But a poem about crime? Isn't crime too melodramatic, too inherently huge? An aria, maybe. (Ask Tosca.) A rock song, sure. (Cue the feedback and crash cymbals.) But a poem?
As I read my fellow contributors' poems in this collection, I saw again and again how so many sought to capture that shock of silence either before or after the violation. The pinprick daze, the web of static, the moment when you're not quite sure what happened, or are stunned as to why.
Not the melodrama but the mystery of it, in the larger sense. The small weird horror of violence, the gaping hole it leaves in things, the tumbling emptiness just beyond the fabric of normality that crime always betrays.
The narrators in these poems, like the poets themselves, stand just this side of dumbstruck. They know words are cheap. They strive to use them wisely. I'm proud and humbled to have my work included among theirs.
Friday, April 15, 2011
From David Corbett
For the seventeenth stop on the So Dark For April blog tour, the following post from contributor David Corbett: