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« The National Medals of Arts and Humanities: "Dwelling in possibility . . . " | Main | The Dogs are Howling, Allen (by Laura Orem) »

February 14, 2012


Nice. The link to the essay on poetic freedom doesn't seem to be working, though. Can it be repaired?

It works.

Doesn't seem to be working at this end. I'll try again later, thanks.

Hm, it's working for me. Here's the url:

OK, got it. Working here now too. Sorry for the distraction.

Very fine essay it is, too. The issue she raises about Kant, and the idea of poems as stand-ins for unpredictable, free persons - which we begin to make without exactly knowing where they will end - makes me think of another philosopher I've been reading lately - Michael Polanyi. He comes at this issue of "knowing/not-knowing" from a different, very original direction.

We have this "tacit" knowledge, which we can never articulate, which forms the ground of our actions - our attempts to articulate or "formalize" knowledge or inventions (or art works, or science) of all kinds... Polanyi believes this unspoken (& unspeakable) sense also grounds the confidence we have that our actions are leading to some valid outcome, have some real purpose. Thus while we may begin a poem without knowing how it may turn out, nevertheless we have a hunch... some intuition of the goal, which gives us the confidence to dive in.

& then of course our hunches can prove shallow or mistaken, as in all best-laid plans... hence the prevalence of vain & "purely formal" exercises....

What a gift, this interview with Mlinko. I'm struck by her fierce and true-feeling pronouncements (like this:
"I think some poetic devices are more advanced than others: the sonnet is cognitively more interesting than the villanelle; metaphor and metonym are more interesting than meter..." Here's a poet who knows the lay of the land of human cognition and intuition.

The interview has led me to her work,with which I've been only a casual reader. Thank you for this rich week of posts, Michael.

Thank you for reading, Leslie!

Frankly, I wish this were longer - I can't think of two (can I say young-ish?) poets I'd rather spy on while they discuss issues of difficulty and generosity. Particularly through the lens of Hill. Trifecta.

I'm a little surprised at your restraint - no need to work through your Seidel differences?

For those interested, this is a pretty interesting interview that Mlinko did with Ian McGilchrist regarding neuroscience, cognition, poetry and stuff.

Last time I saw Ange, we agreed not to discuss Seidel further. It's sort of like a marriage.

Thanks, Spencer. Say hi to good Peter Henry for me.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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