Johan de Wit
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Devoted to a perfect world (hallelujah!) bun fights prepare minivitamins for airing indoor tracks. Set back from nominal hips two-in-a-bar sleep on nonce grids. This is what and that is why the other hand is a sheer constant in possession of a plummy voice. Hampered by ambition mothballed particles charge a one-time full throttle. Any complaints?
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Roached into a fax number he polished affricate fouls for his interpreter. One down before already botched up similar nightcaps; Schrödinger’s cat provoked a semidetached hard drive, in part homogeneously pleasing. Hunger and slag, sweat and beef halt the forecast. The might of a question carried bolts over small bonfires but larger than a drug trafficker.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Treading the landing after rolling around with the class the me-colour-bus reaction to body frames the rough bits in a twin-track tunnel. Pandas in deep ad (min) hoc stretch a flux of slabs to articulate (ugh) early jogging. Got it or gutted, pitchers feed on pictures; close to a yellow-white r-less cartilage strip lights brazenly assign itinerant cells to itching cuddles.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Expelled from dregs white marble spikes the veins; for listening to bats each discipline slows down time. A pulse on the run has nothing to hide, four legs of fire feast on a summer festival of spiritual pain — up-switch; dizzy questions of plucky lace horses on double vision bungle an isolation unit slacker by sulking about down to earth to earth spanking.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Proving a linen-lined sourdough before levelling the playing field for nut-hatches and suffragettes the ragged furbelows whiplashed by wicker baskets, ale bracts and daggerboards exchanged symbolic noises for pull quotes. Dockland’s border guards help inhale freeze-dried parsley, coping beyond spoils, muttering at cambium; money cottons on to gods.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Stuffed from the waist up configured bates stripped his shucks, moved his skin, while his ego swarming up to printer’s cod hedge-hugged the ancient art of sense. Ruddles Wheat, dolled up for a night out with misfits and base necks, is home to fake props; belfries and crystals kiss Caliber’s pot. Poetry is not quite stupid enough to die on its own terms.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Dated twice he met his interactive self by the checkout having first fried bell-shaped wires in dog Dutch. Brightly cooled to dig a grave before walking into fool’s gold the liquids ran after his speech. Hand-selected bog riband up O’Hanlon’s nose also raises upturned soil, er, done with that dead night. Being a headcase is imminent: in and him baulk at ballet.
Once upon a time there was a dead man. Swelling shoulder pads got him extra what-ifs. Undersized scallies attract freak magnets; and cockspurs that. Thank you both for joining us! Springbock doesn’t live up to local cannons. Tinseltown frowns on Inuit seals; too blubbery for a handshake the air is ready but so are the snares. Back to sack memory, index fingers pause and sniff around yelling cocks.
Do it now 4 July 2007
The new is now out of date, said my partner, while sharing a double-layered chocolate cake: two forks please. Perspiration has gone the way of inspiration. Distribution of speech, in an A-level physics class, shows that evaporation does not disturb the electronic voting system. If only. Once more the surface is nearer the mark and the tongue moves faster than the feet, so much for hiding by following an escape route. Poetry magnetises the properties of language but fails to account for the propositions made to the listener when the reader was busy separating the smoke rings from the paradigms. The poetic component of language is activated by how perception in situ turns out. If guilt enters the room the frame freezes. Poetry is about liberating the mind from the disturbance of the social. Sensitivity, however, can be marketed as any other form of information and should therefore be located in the shockproof domain of theoretical turbulence and similar experiental conditions of globalisation for further analysis. The formal harmony of reality is sucked out of language and replaced by an appetite for self-answering questions: when poetry renounces (renunciates) enunciation, aesthetics and poetics merge into poetry. The laboratory becomes the open field and viruses are allowed to roam freely: everybody to the breach to impeach linguistics and confrontics. Language, the local, is a simultaneous arrangement of one and the other with no-one in the middle to keep the peace. It seems to be a necessary progression from performance to audience or from content to form. Poetry is a frame of reference abstracted from the blank page and inserted into the right hand. An early climax is a warning that the reader needs more time if the listener has nothing to say, but let’s hope they won’t let go of each other. The function of poetics is to loosen the screws of academia and tighten the belts of arcadia. When terms are exchanged it should surprise nobody that gifts bear no geeks and that, when duty calls, identity is a spliced video tape.
Could you just ...? 28 July 2007
If poetry is a first-order action, then poetics could be seen as both action and reflection. The world of ifs and buts knows no bounds. Poetics tries to domesticate the language of poetry by poeticising the language of thought. Thinking implies defusing authority by creating tension in the patterns of words, in the sheer regulatory power of language. Not to know the outcome excites all members of staff. Although poetry has only one voice in the language family, it is and will remain a privileged version of language; reality, however, prefers to visit the gated communities. Poetry is the battery house of language, it receives, stores and redistributes the energy language users have given to language and because of its inherently recyclical nature can then be used again by anyone working in and with poetry or one of its spin-offs. Poetics only sweeps the shop floor. It is neither a partial or radical transformation of linguistic or poetic logic nor a paid-up explicator of poetry’s health effects. Poetics takes its cue from the trade unions: solidarity unites silliness and solemnity; it’s the perfect vehicle for a work-out session with volunteers. The professionals are busy writing books, marking exam papers or teaching the intricacies of a comforting tradition. Poetics like poetry is the result of writing down what comes to mind, what one individual finds either necessary or sufficient to say and if that has to be clumsy or clowning, so be it. If it appeals to the gallery, they could place a bet or make a spot check any time. Some offers are referred to as proffers, others as coffers, but neither lock their windows of opportunity. No carpenter or bricklayer need apply. Poetics is part and parcel of poetry – and back to front. Both are versions of the logic of poetic language. Teachers can be forgiven for raising their eyebrows – more people should follow their example – but poets who are teachers better transcend the language of education as a dehydrated poet takes the risk of being neither nor.
“Events, dear boy, events” 16 August 2007
Poetry as a practice is a transition from provisional torture to professional reflection on abstinence from thinking, on confidence in the ability to give pleasure to some and on a reliance on certainty, identity and the proximity to power devoid of the capital gains of the well spoken, heeled or otherwise peeled. The vocabulary of a past poetics of whatever hue has now become inapplicable and inexplicable. Poetry has disappeared from radical culture and must be considered moribund even if its morganatic principle of joining pope and pop continues to excite its neopractitioners and provoke its bystanders. The distribution of verbal poetry from college to cartridge has been reversed. This shift of focus from mind to mouth means that any concept not embedded in saliva will not be made available to the general public, be they tax payer or whetstone reader. To recognise that poetry is a stop on the road to Liberia – the state of liberty (sic) – but at the same time deny that poetics is the portico to Utopia – the state of silence (hallelujah) – makes a mockery of the thought that nature and nurture could ever join forces to keep the past away from the present. The armed forces like to be busy. Poetry as an instance of the unencumbered flow of language – meaning education and experience are either haloed or tabooed – may be adored on campus but finds itself incapable of stopping the Thames from overflowing its banks. Poetry finds itself so important that it has no time for reality minus the odd encounter with the page. Mistakes made in the past make the present a balkanised version of tradition. No poetry community that I know of accepts a particularised poetics that empowers both community and poetry. When careers are at stake egos grow and create a market for attrition: rubbing and scratching will then become the favourite pastimes of those seasoned subscribers who think that publications are not just the aggregates of mutual smiles but also the deposits of accumulated subjectivity and reciprocity.
What goes round comes round 31 August 2007
Poetry is like thinking, only spicier, courtesy Claire Smith. Even so, sometimes, poetry, and the same applies to poetics, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Whether this was caveat fifty-one or forty-nine, I can’t honestly say. It’s the business of poetics to narrow the gap between what poets do or say and where poets go. The established rate of contact leaves the unlucky concepts in the locker room when the players meet on court. The papers print any hard fact whatever its multiple source, life expectancy or vulnerability to domestic intrigue or application. Contemporary poetics has had a beneficial effect on the plausibility of poetry. Poetry is now accepted as part of a normal way of life; add more colour, it won’t run, and the potential for attention might give the said some saying. As always when poetry rules language poetics is the force that both maintains the energy supply for optimum levels of participation and reins in any excess that might disrupt the flow of the excitement from poet to reader stroke listener. Poetics doesn’t pre-empt poetry, nor is it, as yet, independent of poetry: poets practise both, explicitly or implicitly. Poetry, in other words, entails poetics and vice versa. Principles, however, fall apart when the chips are down and the chaps short of money. Apart from that, concessions to anecdotes and perspectives notwithstanding, summersaults provide spectators with attachments, i.e. poetry doesn’t have a chance when detachment arcades open their doors at three thirty. Poets meet when poetry beats its way to the door of a cellar-like structure – through the keyhole it looks like an extensively revised page. On the inside continuity is manifestly guaranteed, but in each corner you’ll find the old thresholds of perception baying to be taken into account when the podium is raised to accommodate the speaker’s lips to be seen and read as being part of the comings and goings of language. Reluctant to attract too much attention, poetics allows poetry to dominate the proceedings for the time being.
“Get over yourself” 12 September 2007
Poetry is “at one and the same time” pure thought, language and common experience. Without subject no poetry: poetry is central to a human being when centred by and on the page. From now on, whatever line of reasoning is suggested, humanism is the background, the prepared context of poetry. Poets who take to the practice of politics run the risk of becoming impolite, impolitical poets. First time round, an argument is never that convincing: too many takes/takings or leaves/leaving parties could be at fault and if so books should be opened and if contributory factors are found they should be re-examined and if necessary remodelled. Magnificent though magnifiers are, they are never as sharp as when tested to destruction. Where does the adrenalin go when analogies are no longer acceptable? Language always makes logic blind: this way to the front where logic has no mercy and where friendly fire and the division of labour disperse all habitual incomers. Poets beware! Shop stewards and field marshals unite: only the prominence of poetics keeps you together, not your own egos. As soon as language and poetics are mentioned, “relations of hierarchy and domination” are evoked, certainly after a hard day’s work. Language is by its very nature embedded in every aspect of the world we live in – indeed there are scholars who say since time immemorial – but can the same be said about poetry and if not, why not? Could poetry, for instance, shape its aesthetic experience in such a way that a reflective language user could recognise its application outside the field of poetry without changing their diet? That this is and remains a question could indicate that no answer is available or that no-one, as yet, has had the energy to pursue such a trajectory. Poets are not called to intervene, they are not called full stop. What can be expected from self-appointed grandees – obviously members of the Church of Scientology – is not what we pay them for. Peers who cheer are of no use to cheerleaders, they only cause their redundancy and put all change on hold.
How do you do? 24 September 2007
“What language forgets, poetry remembers”, provided the story is told in full. Why recently creative has become a synonym for imaginative or innovative I fail to understand. Poetry is necessarily linked to language and not to literature because that’s what it is and that’s where it comes from. Language out of control is the first step towards poetry. Language cannot change itself into something else. The prospective language of poetry remains language all the same. Poetry is performative language, not because its name is poetry, but because it does what language does: it makes itself happen when presented as poetry. As soon as poetry does that it survives as poetry only if it does what language does and as we all know that depends on what happens after language leaves the mouth. Poetry keeps language in the present – poetry is not the big mouth of the bully or the big tent of politics but the mouth that lets language go. Poetry may also be a promise to keep language alive. Language that has forgotten it is poetry is technology, genetically modified keyboard strokes. All the how-do-you-dos of this world don’t make the world a readable place – you need a quiet corner for that to happen – poetry is the place where language can be read, tried and tested. What is odd is that you literally need to sit down to read poetry to yourself or as language. As soon as you are asked to read or present it to a listener you automatically stand up, metaphorically at least. Weird! As if poetry was holding the baby of language. What a weird image! I thought that both, no let’s make that all three, were female, at least in their linguistic form. Obviously, poetry doesn’t say what happens when you lift the veil of as if. That it is a veil we recognise, because that’s the first thing we see when we read poetry. That’s why most people draw the curtains when they read poetry and wait for the sun to set. There’s no point in waiting for the sun to set and then draw the curtains. That would be asking. After all, if poetry is not a springboard, then what is it?