Monday, 21 April 2014

Memorizing a poem

(...) I still was shocked by the poem’s palpable effect on me. I think we’re biologically impacted by language. It can be deeply, deeply nourishing. And I don’t mean that as a metaphor. It can feel like something cellular gets fed. When language is treated beautifully and interestingly, it can feel good for the body: It’s nourishing, it’s rejuvenating. This is not the way we typically think about literature, which tend to talk about as taking place inside the head—even if it’s the emotional part of the head. To feel energized by Stevens was a singular experience that reminded me how words register in our physical bodies, too. It felt like concrete proof that literature is important. 

I think a good poem will always stay a little mysterious. The best writing does. The words that click into place, wrap around something mysterious. They create a shape around which something lives—and they give hints about what that thing is, but do not reveal it fully. That’s the thing I want to do in my own writing: present words that act as a vessel for something more mysterious. I know it’s working when I feel like there’s something hovering beneath it the verbal, that mysterious emotional place that Stevens wrote about.

 Language is limited, it’s a faulty tool. But how high it lights the dark.

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