Fascinating article, with a lot going on:
“The first stage in the evolution is contingent and cannot be contrived. In this first stage, the voice, by no fault of its own, finds itself trapped between two poles, two competing belief systems. And so this first stage necessitates the second: the voice learns to be flexible between these two fixed points, even to the point of equivocation. Then the third stage: this native flexibility leads to a sense of being able to “see a thing from both sides.” And then the final stage, which I think of as the mark of a certain kind of genius: the voice relinquishes ownership of itself, develops a creative sense of disassociation in which the claims that are particular to it seem no stronger than anyone else’s.”
Love the Frank O’ Hara she quotes along the way:
I am a Hittite in love with a horse
I don’t know what blood’s
in me I feel like an African prince I am a girl walking downstairs
in a red pleated dress with heels I am a champion taking a fall
I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist
in which a face appears
and it is another face of blonde I am a baboon eating a banana
I am a dictator looking at his wife I am a doctor eating a child
and the child’s mother smiling I am a Chinaman climbing a mountain
I am a child smelling his father’s underwear I am an Indian
sleeping on a scalp
and my pony is stamping in
and I’ve just caught sight of the
Niña, the Pinta and the Santa
What land is this, so free?
That says Qays and Layla. Remember how Miss Marple always said that one need look no further than the smallest village’s insular life to find the full range of human potential and experience? The more I travel the world and the more places I live, the more I am convinced of the truth of this in the bonest part of my bones, and the more uninteresting the surface ways people try to differentiate themselves from each other and give themselves a sense of belonging somewhere special become. I find it harder and harder to be interested in local customs and traditions in each new place I live.
What is more interesting is identifying the Hans DeWitt or the Susannah Peters or the Seck family in each community, whatever the country, whatever the continent. Because the same people are always there, everywhere, wherever.
Here’s a neat post followed by a neat discussion. I’m too mush-brained to try and summarize it coherently, so just read it. It’s about making choices between being a poet and/or being something else. I’m with the people who are saying that one always finds the time and energy to do what one considers important, whatever the circumstances. If one doesn’t do whatever it is – from writing or learning how to write poetry to just remembering people’s birthdays – it doesn’t mean that one gets overwhelmed by external uncontrollable circumstances (and I don’t care how damn busy or ill or dysfunctional anyone can ever claim to get), it just means it wasn’t important enough.
Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.
- Ogden Nash, The Common Cold
All I ask is to be left alone to die in peace.