Ish Klein’s poems are a synthesis of imagination, virtuosity, and feeling the likes of which I’ve never seen before. For this post, I asked Ish to write a poetics statement and asked if I could include her poem “From a Book of Changes.” Ish also sent along her poem “IN THE BEGINNING.” My thanks to Ish for her generosity and her efforts.
I’m writing this for you. I see you as my brother and I like your poetry. Here is an account of how I wrote “From a Book of Changes”. What precipitated the writing of it was just me trying to impose order on me. So I will give you the circumstance and some notes on form. This will include what some numbers mean to me.
In spite of everything, I like the poem; it was what I did at that time. I was still me then and a decent person even though I was troubled.
When I was writing “From a Book of Changes” (2009 through early 2011) I was struggling with intrusive thoughts. I’d be shocked by a thought and then it would get stronger. It was like mental Tourettes. I would think something filthy then I would think, why am I thinking this filth? That can’t be me. Like the worst thing you could imagine—with knives in genitals, and other things. Since I knew I didn’t want this, I figured someone must be doing these thoughts to me. Implications spread. Things on the radio, things people said, I took very personally. As a result I lost trust in most other people and was alone most of the time.
To protect myself , I intensely imagined the strongest man in the world. The idea was that my need would make a sort of scream that he could hear and then he would come here and help me. The poem was the happening after the summoning.
The ‘you’ in the poem is a strong man. He takes many different forms (like Odin). In fact, the “you” probably is Odin. We get into a sort of wrestling match for control of the book. The book is my brain. Maybe I am not the best one to be in control of the book and yet I can’t seem to help myself from trying to exert influence. Well that is human; to want Odin and not want Odin. He probably isn’t really bothered; which is why he’s him.
The form is in tercets because three is the number of spirit. The third thing. The first thing is me, the second is you and the third thing is the thing between us: spirit, or our relationship.
That there are 22 tercets was determined by the number of turns the poem took; more or less. Two is the number of wisdom. Yes it is this and yes it is that. Two equal halves. Finally that there are 66 lines is because as I wrote the poem in anger, so it remains angry; energy circling low. The poem is stuck in the physical world. I’ve attached a relatively new poem to help the old one out.
Thank you for being interested. I would love to know what your process is. Do you like Raul Zurita? His poem “The Sea” is one of the best poems I have ever read in my life.
June 30, 2012
p.s. about the fourth dimension which is maybe an area where time is simultaneous though distinguishable by different rates. Rates manifested as colors (the wavelenghts). I think it might look like colored string on fast metal. Or moving metal. My relationship to it is like everyone’s.