THE WILDERNESS AFTER WHICH

Today while reading aloud from my first mentor L.S. Klatt’s THE WILDERNESS AFTER WHICH, I experienced a feeling I can only describe as sorrow that made me realize sorrow and love are really synonyms.

The longer I write, the more deeply I explore the field of language in my reading and in my writing, the less necessary I feel the first things I came to poetry with to be: my personality in its uniqueness, say, ego, narrative or personal life story, including, as it does, my terminal cancer diagnosis. As important as these things undeniably are, I have begun to leave them behind in my daily practice of return to the rudiments of my English language and the engine of emotion that brings me to speech, as Levertov says.

Increasingly, the details of my life serve as a mere starting point, a point of departure, from which I derive the poem. Perhaps this is what T.S. Eliot meant by impersonality. The notes I sit down with in my notebook are now more often than not abandoned as the piece that unfurls in my MS Word document diverges and tacks its own unique course. Sometimes I’ll begin with some target in mind, some notion of where I want to end up, but then find a better note to end on, following from some other word or image seeded earlier in the poem. Perhaps this is what Denise Levertov meant by organic form, the organs of a body evolving beyond authorial intention.

At the same time, though, this shift away from the world of real concerns where language is a tool, diminishes the socioeconomic and political importance of the poet, even a poet who might on some theoretical level be subversive.

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