Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Recent comments on my recent whining have brought to mind a passage from Life Work, by Donald Hall, in which he quotes the sculptor Henry Moore:

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to,
something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life.
And the most important thing is—it must be something you cannot possibly

No matter what we write or how it's received—or not received—I think we are all engaged in that elusive pursuit of our best work. It's an evolution, and it's our life works.

That said, I've been reading Can Poetry Matter, by Dana Gioia—and so far I've been struck by two ideas regarding my own work (I'm speaking only for myself here and not for anyone else):

One: I'm too much invested in my ego (I want to succeed; I want the approval). I'd be a liar if I said otherwise. True, it's the writing and the writing life that's important and if I were shut in a dark box I would scratch the walls or go crazy trying to memorize what I wanted to write. But when one watches one's peers or people one knows or people one has heard of before get books published or national awards or coveted readings, it's hard not to measure oneself on that yardstick.

Two: This could encompass about 20 things, really: Not having found my own personal voice, formal poetry is too sloppy, other poetry is too mundane. What am I saying, really?

I'm not sure.

That's the problem, I think.

How to write poetry that is relevant, that resonates. The urge to create is matched with an urge to communicate. We write what we write—but is there a way, is there a lens we can look through, to bring added depth or reach to our work?

Or is it a crapshoot and we practice and hope that helps?

Now it's time for the first game of this year's World Series. (I think Mr. Hall would approve—after all, Boston's in it.)

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