Saturday, September 19, 2015
In the discussion about poetry in "Surrealism is and is not something particular" below, there were a few formulations that raised questions/objections from Aase Berg, and forced me to the following clarifications:
”form is secondary”
It is certainly characteristic for poetry that content and form are not separate things, that language details have a spiritual meaning. It’s actually not the least specifically that which I am referring to here: in poetry there does not exist any stylistic choices, it is about different tracks of the spirit that one chooses to explore or not explore. It is not about a given content which one chooses which guise to give. It is the content that creates a form for itself in one’s hands according to its own dynamic. Form is then secondary in the sense that it shows afterwards what form it took – and that various distinctions and classifications based on form (”this is a surrealist poem, but this one is more expressionist”) are of limited interest.
”domestications of poetry”
I mean domestication in the sense of taming a wild animal, learning to exploit something to make it carry out labour in the safe sphere, mastering great powers for small, local, if you will petty, purposes, the typical example being home and family, but just as much career and ego.
A domesticated use of poetry is for example writing casual poems with the purpose of sublimating strong feelings and smooth over conflicts in the events of national disasters or funerals. But this isn’t extremely common these days.
Far more common is when a collection of poetry is regarded as an entry in the cv for stipend applications rather than as something flammable, when poet becomes a profession in the phonebook, when poetry is regarded as a textual genre rather than as an adventure or a desperate research task, etc. And it is also when, to connect it with the question of form, and relating to the latter aspect (”textual genre”), somebody so to speak ”is using the poetic form” to express a certain line of thought, a certain fix idea, a beloved memory, a certain courtship of either an object for seduction or a judge of taste, to demonstrate one’s wide reading, one’s elegant versification skills, one’s consciousness of heritage or of trends or of both, instead of following its own dynamics.
And it is probably foremostly the latter, ”using the form” that I am referring to in the text.
And I keep talking about these things in the post about American poetry below.