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« How to Write: First you've got to think of something . . . [Agatha Christie's secret, by Stacey Lehman] | Main | Two Poems [by Mitch Sisskind] »

September 30, 2021

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p.s. cute brim, Dave

What I like about this poem is that it is not about the pandemic except to the extent that it was written during the pandemic and reflects the facts of life as and after the worldwide catastrophe hit us.

Thank you, Kath Jones for the perceptive remark. That's exactly what I wanted to do. Use the actualities of an early pandemic day to talk about gambling and god -- subjects that are entwined and modified by the forces of doubt, chance, and faith

It is about the man in the hat; people in mirrored cells cannot see beyond themselves!

The mirror / window trope has been with us for a long time. Lehman is probably more oriented to the window than most of our poets, who believe with Wordsworth that the mind (imagination) is superior to what it beholds. Nevertheless I like your comment, Pam; it is a nice hat; but I don't see the "mirrored cell" you do.

The point is not whether Mr. Lehman retires the trophy for self-centeredness, but that the American poetry business has become way more mirror than window. How could it be any other way? We tell children they are poets, we anoint junior high poets laureate, we share the republic's massive quadrennial branding event with spoken worders, fresh from college. Poetry cannot be reduced to the craft of writing that underlies it - but only underlies it. The poet is an anthropological/psychological archetype, not the establishment's p.r. guy, not the publishing industry's best friend.

Another way to look at it - free of scholarly argumentation, is that poetry is what is, not what was - or, more precisely, how any scholar thought it was.

Thanks to all for your comments.

This (Pam Demoy's) is an extremely interesting argument, although it seems less pertinent to the poem at hand than to the creative writing industrial complex (ha), the inaugural hokum, and, most of all, the devaluation of poetry by subjecting it to extra-literary criteria. (Pam Demoy wrote: "We tell children they are poets, we anoint junior high poets laureate, we share the republic's massive quadrennial branding event with spoken worders, fresh from college. Poetry cannot be reduced to the craft of writing that underlies it - but only underlies it. The poet is an anthropological/psychological archetype, not the establishment's p.r. guy, not the publishing industry's best friend.")

In a world where poetry is a mirror, instead of a window, as in the real world, perhaps this assortment of words would amount to a poem - can't say, though - I cannot escape reality.

p.s. this preceded the top comment, hence the "p.s." It must've fallen off the page!

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality." Was TSE looking out the window or in the mirror when he wrote "Prufrock" and "The Waste Land"?

Sad to say, Tony, but poor old Tom may have been looking over his shoulder at Bertram Russell, or at the pushy Ezra Pound, or at some Faber & Faber contract or manuscript. Perhaps he was reading something from Rome, in anticipation of joining the church there? Eliot had so much on his personal plate, it's a wonder he got any good word-art done at all!

Bertrand Russell was, however brilliant, a scoundrel.

According to Louise Menand in The New Yorker, "Russell was a sexual predator who permitted himself to become temporarily infatuated with the women he seduced. He pretended, by way of self-justification, to believe that his intimacy with Vivienne provided a form of marital therapy to the Eliots."

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