They seem to me to cohere

The whole point of creative poetry is to do things that aren’t commonplace, so maybe I leave those lines as they are—they seem to me to cohere, though I can’t explain why by reference to narrative completion or formal completion (14 lines in a sonnet). Richard Wilbur tends to be a formal-poem poet, and that’s fine for him—and his example has no purchase on me and what I do.

Ah, well. Yes, it’s a slightly unnerving feeling to realize the standards of doneness, of “poem-ness” (as in, “is this really a poem?”) are up to me—but also, how powerful a feeling, and how heady—confidence—well, I was gonna say confidence-building, but I’m not sure that’s true, and I’m not sure confidence matters in what I’m talking about today.

I don’t know what more to say, but most everything else I did yesterday seems to pale, to blanch, to fade out, in comparison.

It’s not overthrowing an army or something—but just to realize that I’m free of social/artistic strictures, that’s powerful. You have freedom but you don’t have the safety/protection/public identity of formal poems (or any recognizable art form, anything socially accepted as art. Rap wasn’t, at first, but now its place is pretty secure. Miley Cyrus rapped on a YouTube video about why she will cancel her Twitter account. But that’s still a pretty safe place.)

And If I read my poem to others, I don’t know that they’d see what I see. I’ve spent more time, and now, the parts that I feel cohere don’t obviously cohere. If the listeners’ brains are looking for logical or narrative connections, looking for my poem to fit a pattern, it won’t—not an obvious pattern, even the parts feel to me to cohere in an emotional/tone sense? They share a mood, maybe? Or they share a sound commonality, harshness, or whatever.

[From journal of Tues. 20 Oktober (Augdopour—on whiteboard this morning) 2009, Journal 119, page 191-2]

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