real sofistikashun-tony hoagland

“i studied at her feet without even meeting her.” –john forte on angela davis

“sometimes i feel like there’s a lot of rebuilding in order and in order and a lot of that is going to come from just the old fashioned principle of reading books. and more importantly, we have to write and document our history right now.” –badu

by the end of the night, i’ll be two books closer to reading through my spring collection. bigups to the folks who showed up to dance this week-it was really empowering to be part of living in your tall spaces as we sashayed during the runway segment. poets-i see you.

“All young poets are, to some extent, victims of fashion because young artists are by necessity imitators. To imitate is how one learns craft, and for young poets especially, art of the present moment exerts the greatest magnetism. Some are lucky to be born into an era whose style is coincidentally well suited to their talent and nature. Others are born into the wrong era, an artistic environment that clashes with their natural instincts.” (189)

“Passion is the greatest gift a poet can have, and nobody is mildly obsessed.” (82)

“Self-consciousness often provokes an over exertion of cleverness. But intelligence, when used well in a poem, never makes the reader feel less smart than the writer, or left behind. Rather, it gives the reader the exhilarating pleasure of being smart in concert with the speaker.
The goal of the healthy artist is not to be crippled by the weight of literacy, nor intimidated into a kind of aesthetic conservatism, nor to be engorged with fancy self-protective mannerisms, but to be selectively informed and empowered by knowledge. This development of sensibility could be called the acquisition and use of taste.” (67)

exactly. i should never require a legend to decipher your poetry if i’ve spent every day for 8 months. just sayin’.


2 thoughts on “real sofistikashun-tony hoagland

  1. simile ain’t got shit on me:

    “Invariably, the only adequate way to describe the metaphorical event is by another metaphor. It is a mystery hand going into a black mystery box. The head says, ‘Fetch me a metaphor, hand,’ and the hand disappears under a cloth. A moment later, the hand reappears, metaphor on its extended palm. But, despite the spontaneity and ease of this event, we have only a vague idea of where the image came from. In fact, we don’t know. And neither does the hand.
    What we do know about metaphor is that it is the raw uranium of poetry, and that an urge to claim wild similarities is one of the earliest markers of the poetic spirit. It is a striking fact that some people, otherwise very intelligent and artistic, seem devoid of metaphorical ability, as if that gene were simply missing from their chromosomes. In this way metaphor seems truly a /gift/; that is, something given, not earned.” (21-22) “‘Tis Backed like a Weasel”

    “In its conservative function of equivalence, metaphor is used as a clarifying, focusing device. If we think of a poem as a social act, we could say that the poem as a whole is responsible to the reader, and that the success of the poem is measurable by the reader’s ability to ‘reliably’ inhibit its comparisons. Metaphor may be, in such an enterprise, an enriching device, but it must not toss the rider from the horse.” (30) ibid.

    “Metaphor is both weapon and shield for the person who would protect himself from too much reality or from the wrong kind of reality-it creates a buffer zone of imaginative negotiability. And it protects his right to dream, which, like all freedoms, is dangerous.” (32)

    the brilliance of this chapter is that it’s presented in such beauty-full metaphors.

  2. craft/services:

    “‘Profession’ has always seemed like a misleading, even laughable word for poetry-not just because it suggests that the economy has a Poetry Sector, but also because it suggests that poetry is masterable, that poetry itself is stable, that some persons possess poetry, and that others don’t. Though a skilled craftsperson can create a facsimile of a real poem, a skilled reader can spot the counterfeit in a minute, and the word that reader might use to describe the counterfeit might be ‘professional.’” (59)

    “…that shift in the poet’s attention, toward values of pure sound, away from the more visual aspect of pure image, is a spectral shift in aesthetic.” (73)

    and that aesthetic is the brilliance of wayne (thanks, adam).

    “It is no wonder that we have a passive-aggressive, somewhat resentful relation to meaning itself. In this light, the refusal to cooperate with conventions of sense-making seems like-and is-an authentic act of political, even metaphysical protest-the refusal to conform to a grammar of experience that is being debased by all-powerful public systems.” (186)

    “In Akhmatova’s fierce lyric complaint, a resonant vision has been distilled from the speaker’s experience. It has been rendered clear and caustic, with wit and skill. But the part of the self that has died to get it has left its flavor behind, and, even in translation, the bitterness seeps through, sweetly vengeful, like a worm in the vodka.” (201)

    they say your audience will remember the beginning and the end, and even as one that loves the middle space-this is the strongest finish to bookend the metaphor chapter that a reader could hope for. amazing.

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