Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Frantic Force

I've been thinking about establishing a central waystation for my essays, poetry, videos and music. Currently, my 'web existence' consists of an isthmus here and an isthmus there. So I plan to create a reservoir --or unleash a hundred-year flood. Let's see what the tide brings in.

As a preface to a book-in-progress, I had this to say about the name of this blog, Frantic Force:

"In his 1986 Time magazine essay, Poetry and Politics, Roger Rosenblatt identifies a trait common to poets and politicians as, ‘the frantic force of their opinions. When either speaks his mind, he is like the Ancient Mariner; he seizes the public by the collar as if to say: Accept my perspective and be converted.’

In the popular imagination, the poet is an effete distant figure whose voice epitomizes, as Rosenblatt characterizes the misprision, ‘indirection and repose’. Rosenblatt is right. The poet is a polemicist, no less eager to drive a point -- his point -- home than is the politician or the overt political hack. True, the sublime is a realm poets love to wax from –but it’s usually just before they reach down and snatch your wallet. Camouflaging their bids for power in a velvet crush of roses, autumnal shades and periphrastic mischief, the poet is more artful at the dodge.

As for the powerful, they are either delicate flowers or they know a subversive when they read one. Witness the vitriol routinely greeting Merwin when he strays into ‘political relevancy’, or the two bullets Lorca earned for his anti-fascist exuberance. Sometimes the complexities of reality are an affront to the expectations of genre. When Robert Bly cited America’s ‘famous unconcern’ towards the Vietnam War’s atrocities during his 1968 National Book Award acceptance speech, there were more jeers than cheers for this uninvited polemicist. Where was the poet? Poets have always been in the fray. To quote Merwin: ‘all poetry is politics’..."

1 comment:

C. E. Chaffin said...

Let me be the first to comment.

I do not agree that poets are polemicists or romantic airheads, nor that their kind of narcissism is akin to that of politicians.'

A poet is an artist, a interpretive chameleon in the service of man, but mostly to his art, which if good, has the benevolent side effect of enabling man to help place himself in relationship to the universe and persons. It can be a noble pursuit and is not for sissies.

That said, there are publicity-hungry poets like Ginsberg and Lowell and more solitary varieties like Wilbur and Ashbery. Milan Kundera in "Slowness" calls the former variety "dancers." These are the chameleons of the stage, the spotlight-stricken maneuverers seeking celebrity. As such, they occur in every category of endeavor, including macroeconomic commentary.

Good to have you blogging!

Thine as ever,