Finding the Poem’s Generative Voice


What matters in a poem is beyond reach. What remains (language, cultural associations, representational content etc etc… ) is interesting to talk and think about–more than just interesting: may or may not lead (by exhausting the compulsion to classify argue establish hierarchies and judge to … to what? where?

A transformational encounter. That might leave us for a few seconds free of the need to talk about it, the need to kill what has happened by turning it into a traceable abstraction… trade-able… an aesthetic commodity. A tool of politics and culture. A mirror we pretend has power to reflect our invisible face.

What lives in a poem is not fixed in place. It is generative. It is of nature. A return to nature (as though it were possible to leave — as though there is anything ‘outside’ of nature, that is not at most, nature looking back at itself, imagining that it is other than what it beholds).

What matters is what happens, all of it. Mind. Affect. Idea. The generative event. The encounter. The trace that remains.

Must we then remain silent? The irrepressible urge to think, speak, write–impossible to resist. And there’s no need to do so. But let what is living in the poem speak–a continuation of the generative voice–using and breaking through, as the poem itself both uses and shatters the cumulative shells of culture and convention. We can’t pass judgment on a poem any more than we can pass judgment on the wind or a mountain. The poem is nature’s judgment of its own artifice–which is the artifice of our multiple identities… political, sexual, personal, national, species. The sound of laughter–of what we are laughing at, of what we think we have become.

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