Why I Write Poetry/Getting Inside Another Cocoon

Frank O'Hara postcard [scan]

Frank O'Hara

“I am mainly preoccupied with the world as I experience it, and at times when I would rather be dead the thought that I could never write another poem has so far stopped me. I think this is an ignoble attitude. I would rather die for love, but I haven’t.

“I don’t think of fame or posterity (as Keats so grandly and genuinely did), nor do I care about clarifying experiences for anyone or bettering (other than accidentally) anyone’s state or social relation, nor am I for any particular technical development in the American language simply because I find it necessary. What is happening to me, allowing for lies and exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems. I don’t think my experiences are clarified or made beautiful for myself or anyone else, they are just there in whatever form I can find them. What is clear to me in my work is probably obscure to others, and vice versa. My formal ‘stance’ is found at the crossroads where what I know and can’t get meets what is left of that I know and can bear without hatred. I dislike a great deal of contemporary poetry—all of the past you read is usually quite great—but it is a useful thorn to have in one’s side.

“It may be that poetry makes life’s nebulous events tangible to me and restores their detail; or conversely, that poetry brings forth the intangible quality of incidents which are all too concrete and circumstantial. Or each on specific occasions, or both all the time.” Frank O’Hara

I found this here, and thought it was pretty close to the way I feel about poetry, only I am not as driven to it as Frank O’Hara, and I find more good in contemporary poetry (Though much of it alludes me) and the past is alright some of it inspirational, but much of it a little too dramatic and not enough in the moment for my taste.

I feel like poetry should represent a way of feeling and perceiving in a moment as we all live life moment to moment each in our own little cocoon of senses and thoughts. Poems are an attempt to reach out like a little tube that can slide into other cocoons and communicate on more intimate level. Anyway parts of  O’Hara’s reasons for writing and the reasons he disavows line up with my reasoning pretty well. I am not out to make a grand statement or be famous, and I think that any poet who is is really searching too hard for disappointment. There are many easier and quicker ways to fame and glory. Poetry to me is one moment explained well from my point of view in a way that might connect to someone else enough to continue a real conversation. When I read poetry I find that much of it does not speak to me, but when I find a poet that speaks to me, it is like that person is speaking to the inside of me, breaking into my cocoon and whispering to my deepest self.

This entry was posted in All part of the process, conversations, Other peoples words, poetry, thinking in words and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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