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« Sunday Quiz: Who Didn't Win? | Main | Monday @ KGB: Matthew Yeager + David Lehman »

March 27, 2011


I love you, and you're smart, and I want credit for being the person you had this conversation with. Mostly because it makes me look good that a rock star like you wants to have these sorts of talks with little old me.

Also, I'm not at all mad that you didn't address any of my proposed arguments or counter-arguments. Though I still believe them, and imagine some people do, too. And you know I WON'T get over it, even if I should. But: ah well. The question lets us babble loudly over coffee.

Lastly, my boyfriend is a mathematician who has worried, on several occasions, whether studying math is a futile pursuit because until you reach a certain level of applied mathematics, it doesn't--he fears--actually matter. It's not just for poets anymore.

Again, I love you. Call soon, we have things to discuss.


You are so *totally* the person, and you deserve fullest credit because I can't stop thinking about our talk - I just didn't want to presume to represent you! I didn't want to get you wrong, which is also why I didn't try to put your words and arguments in - but do it here, in the comments! Do it! I'm not trying to be the only voice here, I'm just not sure I can represent anybody else's but my own.

And say hi to Arthur. He's a charmer, math and all.

I love you. Thanks for being such a good hostess and such a good friend.


Oh, and you know I don't question whether poetry MATTERS! But only why more poets aren't taking proactive steps to help more people feel comfortable with and generally knowledgable about poetry so, if they'd like, they have a reference point on where to begin reading and enjoying it. Since it's not a money-making industry yet, no one will do it for us!

Did I mention I think you're really smart? And you're making your points perfectly.

We love you. But mostly me. I love you a lot. Countess Smarty Von Genius Pants. Oh, oh, wait. DR. Countess Smarty Von Genius Pants.

I sort of think any of us are only as smart as the people we can convince to talk and argue with us. So, in this case, that would be you. Also, I totally could have 8 Miled that shite and I didn't. :). Baby cat says hi. Throw that slimy blue thing fr spoo and tell him his auntie hex loves him.

Bex, not hex. Stoopid spellcheck.

And,U make my heart happy!

Though I was not privy to this posting's pre-talk and am not really wearing my smarty pants--nor any pants for that matter--nevertheless, I'll wade in...I was struck by this particular segment of your blog post:

"So why do we keep asking poetry to justify its place in the world? Sometimes I have thought it is because poetry takes as its medium the common property of language, with precisely the goal of using it uncommonly. The resulting sense of estrangement – or just the notion that communicative or expressive language and poetic language are not exactly the same thing – stresses people out sometimes."

I have also often thought about poetry and its medium in language, poetry as a hallucinatory elixir that roofies the virgin cocktails of "communicative" language...But what if the radical estrangement of poetry is just an uncovering of the basic beauty of the tautology? Although this is not, I'm sure, a universally accepted proposal, I can't untangle poetry from the mycelium of metaphor (it's matted up somewhere in that earthy, subterranean tissue, I'm sure). I once wrote a very stupid manifesto about metaphor (I think in Don's class), about how metaphor is a tautology and that this identification does not devalue metaphor, it elevates tautology. What's better than, at root, digging up the radical confluence, the radical identity, of what appear (on the surface) to be the most disparate of entities?

This metaphorical/tautological ability is what binds me to poetry, but I don't think it's the exclusive property of poetry. Math, physics these are also radically metaphorical endeavors. As such, I guess, I'm more interested these days in cracking open the ontology rather than the etiology of poetry. I guess I'm saying that maybe monism and pluralism are the same thing.

I don't want poetry to figure out *why* it matters as much as I want "poetry" (for lack of a better term) to realize it doesn't (and shouldn't) know *what* it is. Or to be content with the tautology that I know A is poetry because poetry is A. A = A. And A represents an infinite set. (Help me out here ghost of Gertrude Stein).

Apologies to any mathematicians who may be (and I do hope you are) reading.

Cheers! Brenda

hi ms. lindenberg. i should warn you that his is dan the undergraduate who has harassed you intermittenly over the last few years . . . but i have been thinking a great deal about these things lately. poetry matters now more than it has ever before, no matter what our elders and supposed betters have claimed. it is more important now, i believe, than it has been at any other time in the history of our species. that sounds stupid, glib i guess is the word, but i have strong feelings about this, my point: how different the world will be ten years from now is almost unimaginable in regards to how drastic a change technology will fundamentally alter our lives (these are not hyberboles--this is fact). the new physics they're night and day trying to uncover relies heavily (though this is very controversial, but the implications are breathtaking) on the subjective universe each of us carries within our brains, which is a very dumbed down, small part of a description of realty which is called the 'strong anthropic principle'. the power of poetry (and i don't believe that poetry will primarily stay on the printed page--i think machines like the ipad and similar devices not yet conceived imply an unprecedented level of creativity and freedom which, i believe (but cannot prove) will be be centered around the written word and it's limitations and euphoric insights(and i'm not talking hypertext--blah). with concepts like 'memes,' and uprisings in the middle east being sparked by the country's youth (a large part of the egyptian uprising began, among other things, with a young man's facebook page, for god's sake), is profound for reasons, well . . . i;ll let the following paragraph from Herzog by saul bellow do the explaining: 'In a society that was no community and devalued the person.Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who have discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do.As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life for innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You- you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest.' this is what's happening right now, all over the world, and the power of poetry, the power that will grow by orders of magnitude through its practitioners being able to get it out into the world, undiluted,all over the place, during the tumultuous decade that we have just lately embarked upon, has the power to change the perception of the global society of individuals who can begin to understand their true (religious or not--honestly it makes no difference) place in this most unlikely of worlds in this even more unlikely of universes. i am very serious about this. nor do i think it will all turn out to be sunshine and roses. it could go bad. there's so much more i want to say, but i will quit this rant. the point is this: ideas, especially when beautifully expressed and brimming over with staggering, beautiful, devastating truth, have more power now than ever before. those who believe poetry has had it's say have merely suffer from a narrow, discontinuous view of history and the of the quasi-organism of human thought that is now the globally connected world, and these discontinuous-minders will be left behind. i am a realist in this regard: the future will be frightening, beautiful, and unimaginable. it could also be horrible. but now this is is just me thinking, speculating, but i believe the next univseral overhaul of reality-perception will next come in the form of a work of art whose truth is coupled to scientific truth is such a way as they will be indistinguishable. i have ranted far longer than i wished, and i have more than trespassed the boundaries of good taste and sentimenalty, so i must say,
good bye. and awesome name for the book, and i'm not thinking lip gloss.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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