I cried reading this, because this is how I read poetry.
“The self-critical part of ourselves that Freud calls the super-ego is remarkably narrow minded. It has an unusually impoverished vocabulary. And it is, like all propagandists, relentlessly repetitive. It doesn’t, as they say, do us justice. “It is cruelly intimidating,” Lacan writes of the obscene super-ego, “and it never brings us any news about ourselves.” There are only ever two or three things we are endlessly accusing ourselves of, and they are all too familiar— a stuck record, as we say, but in both senses. The super-ego is reiterative. It is the stuck record of the past.”
– Adam Philips, Against Self-Criticism, via the London Review of Books Podcast
This is the part of the job that doesn’t get talked about a lot, not least because it’s hard to talk about, but also because it doesn’t involve Productivity and Goals and The Magic Of Writering and The Grand Statement and all that good stuff in interviews. Sure, we all talk about the important Staring At The Wall And Farting Around time, but it’s also about sifting through the shitpile at the back of your head and deciding if you actually have anything to say. Any idiot can recycle the monomyth and plug in a setting and a handful of blank characters, but that’s not the same as having something to say: about the world, life, a thing, even yourself. I have a whole folder of loose ideas that dried up and got thrown in the folder because they and I turned out to have nothing to say about anything – they were just collections of cogs and levers. And by that, I mean probably eight to ten dead ideas, written up and filed, for every one that gets published.
It’s a moronic way to work. Some of my books only speak to me, I’m sure. It’s just the only way to work that I know.
– Warren Ellis (via Orbital Operations)
“There is a moment in Alice Fulton’s Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry that’s been going off in my skull like a flare. In it, she suggests: ‘Each poet creates an expatriate space, a slightly skewed domain where things are freshly felt because they are freshly said.’ And right before that, Fulton muses: ‘Of course, the impulse to create language commensurate to – and transcendent of – meaning is the driving force of poetry.’”
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
– André Gide (via kathleenjoy)
“Your life’s work begins when your great joy meets the world’s great hunger.”
– Kate Bornstein (via kathleenjoy)
Tadeusz Dąbrowski: Does your poetry arise from an excess or a lack, from a glut or from famine?
D. A. Powell: I think a bit of both: an excess of emotion, certainly, and of thought and language—that feeling of “I simply cannot contain all of this feeling and perception in any other way except to create a kind of external hard drive, a place to record and store all of this information.” But also a craving, a longing, a desire to bring back experiences, ideas, people…. To call the lost world back into being.
“I find that often if I’m having a rough go of writing it’s probably a sign that I need to get back to reading or I’m not reading widely enough. That last part is key. Don’t just read contemporary poets. Don’t just read American poets. Don’t just read poetry. Read fiction, essays, graphic novels, history, science articles, fashion magazines, blogs—the world is so vast. Read widely but be discerning. Find what feeds you.”
– Derrick Austin via Burrow Press
“Balance your image systems: An image system is the set of images we create in a poem to make our argument. A good image system coheres, but also makes an idea new. The elements of the image system should be clear and lucid and dynamic.”
“Our capacity for what psychoanalyst Adam Phillips has termed “fertile solitude” is absolutely essential not only for our creativity but for the basic fabric of our happiness — without time and space unburdened from external input and social strain, we’d be unable to fully inhabit our interior life, which is the raw material of all art.”
“When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality. So poetry becomes a philosophy to guide a man throughout his life…. [With poetry, one] is capable of going beyond the limitations of coherent logic, and conveying the deep complexity and truth of the impalpable connections and hidden phenomena of life.”
– Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair (1987)
Hello. I’m Jacob Sam-La Rose. I’m the author of Breaking Silence and Communion. My working hours are distributed between poetry, literature in education, experiments with creative technology and community architecture. I exist in a number of different places online— this site serves as an aggregator, an overview of the various different strands of my web-based activity. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about any of my work.
“In my mind the text is the greatest teacher. That’s how I teach classes. Good poetry is the greatest revelation. I guess what you can teach largely is a love of poetry, not only a love of poetry but a trust of poetry. One thing that keeps people from writing well or that closes people down is actually a fear of poetry, a fear of the freedom it constitutes. We all have internal censors so one thing a teacher can do is try to help a student contend with internal censors. Aside from teaching the craft which I believe in entirely you have to go easy in teaching, you have to judge how much a person is ready for and that calls for constant ability to read people that no one has all the time.”
– William Olsen, from Poets on Pedagogy
“The future is a weatherfront, and attempting to predict single lightning strikes is stupid and wasteful. Understand the future as weather, and yourself as standing on the shore looking out to the horizon. Breathe the air and watch the water. There are dozens of different systems acting on the approach of the future. In order to get a handle on what’s coming, you need to be talking to and working with and keeping an eye on many different fields. Not just “technology.” The future is also always social, and economic, and political, and many other things besides, and those things act on the path of the storm. And, if you’re standing on the shore, you know that there are a lot of storms out there, and any one of them could hit like a hurricane. If this sounds good to you, then, please, get to it. Because we’re running out of reliable early-warning stations.”
– Warren Ellis, via Orbital Operations
“I believe in callings. They come as Aces, like the clouds parting, the gift bestowed from above. But I also believe that callings require you to reorient your life and cut away anything extraneous. They are burdens as much as they are gifts.”
– Jessa Crispin, via Austin Kleon
Barbican Young Poets would like to thank the @forwardprizes for generous donations of Forward anthologies for our end of year session.
This evening, we spoke about the value of the programme, next steps, professionalisation and engaging with poetry for sheer joy. Most importantly, we celebrated love. The sense of care we bring into the room, a mutual and holistic investment in each poet’s growth and well-being.
Write hard. Care much. Repeat. (at Barbican Centre)
Took some Barbican Young Poets and other a few other young poets I’m working with to meet the literature team at the Arts Council this afternoon. Happy to hear the range of ideas these poets are scheming. Thanks to the literature team for making the time.
4th floor. Rather lovely slide image exhibition. Projectors are centrally placed, pointing at different walls. They shut off after a short time, and must be triggered by pressing a red button (not the projectors themselves; fragile, don’t touch). And you become aware of sight-lines (light-lines)— how easy it is to transgress by walking in front of light source and casting your shadow across an image. How light brings these archive images to life (complete with the hum/breath of a projector’s inner workings); how fragile light can be.
Now considering a projected exhibition with images and typography/text/poems. So much of my thinking is digital these days, it’s refreshing to consider something that’s analog and still subtly interactive. (at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Ramilles Street, Oxford street)
At the Photographers’ Gallery, watching people taking pictures of pictures. Meta is the God of these hours. (at The Photographers’ Gallery)
Back from another @arvoninsta / @totleighbarton week. Much poetry and many varied tongues. This: the view I woke up to each morning. (at Sheepwash)