Looting Versailles

Looting Versailles
My first book of poems, just released by Alabaster Leaves Publishing

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

P. Muldoon, and the art of what is NOT said

I just wanted to write a brief blog praising the art of Paul Muldoon, Irish poet, professor at Oxford and Princeton. I'd consider him a poet's poet, so my kind of poet. He is not accessible, he is difficult. He is colorful diction (the Aussies and Celts don't have to look far for pleasingly-odd words), playful form with off-the-wall rhymes; he is having fun, he is vulgar, high-brow, pastoral, guttural, visceral, drunk - basically, disorienting as hell, WHICH I LOVE. There is more VERVE to his work than in the Heaney I've read (RIP). He reminds me of a brutish, roguish version of James Merrill, with his playing in form and love of sound and color. By color I mean the splash of imagery a word throws on the mental screen. If  you have not, I suggest you read him now.

I also want to comment briefly on a concept mentioned by many poets in interviews (Ashbery, and several of those late 19th / early 20th c. Frenchmen, at least), the idea of poetry being as  much about is NOT said as it is about what IS said. I realized it is unlike poetry to expound on its declarations, because to do so would risk passing over into prose territory. And it is what is NOT said, and the possibilities of what COULD HAVE BEEN said, that creates, I believe, on some level, the multiple possible, multiple ineffable / un-paraphrasable meanings of a line of well-wrought poetry. And I believe in an unconscious way, those multiple meanings are what link the sometimes odd movements of a poem; in fact, I think one can sense a hollowness or emptiness, vacuousness to a poem where the movement truly is random. Which actually does bring me to one more thing I've thought about recently...

During my bike rides and runs the past month or two, I've listened to classical music and jazz  music. What excites me in a song without lyrics is the MOVEMENT of the melody, the unanticipated, splendid places it jumps to along the way. And now when I re-engage with contemporary pop / rock music (or on occasion rap) I realize it isn't the (often horrible) lyrics that move me, but the movement of the melody or background instruments, or all, and their jumping in and out of the piece. Perhaps this is a quality of art that takes place in time - the movement. Perhaps that seems very general and obvious. But I really appreciated it when I listened the past couple months to classical music and jazz music. Not for the first time, mind you, but for the first time since really finding my aesthetic sense via my experiences with poetry. I just received the new Art in America tonight, a magazine of visual art, so I'll see if a piece of "static art" has the same "movement" quality. I can imagine it could, as our eyes dart about quadrant to quadrant or chaotically, in order to experience the piece in its entirety, which mean time does indeed pass.

QUICK NOTE: If you live in the Dayton, OH area, on Sept 14, this Saturday, at 3 pm  I'll be reading from my chapbook and signing / selling copies afterward at Wright Memorial Library on Far Hills Rd in Oakwood (Dayton). If you can come show your support, I'd really appreciate it!

G'night, all.

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