Cantos: A New Directions Blog

Posts Tagged ‘poetry

Language out of work

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“Poetry is not language at play, but language out of work, deliberately unemployed—thus poetry commits a kind of welfare fraud upon us all.” ~Christian Bok

While I was doing my usual few minutes of Twitter, I ran across this interesting rumination by the poet Christian Bok on his Twitter page. One takes illumination where one can, whether it’s thought-provoking graffiti art, a beautiful little book of architectural projects at Kinokuniya where I was browsing this evening (one tremendous project outlined was a greenhouse made with a structure that allowed the greenhouse to sway gently in the wind, reflecting the movement of plants in the wind), graphic art on blogs, or a tweet by an innovative poet on the nature of language in poetry.

There is a sort of duplicity in the language of poetry, or as I heard Marie Ponsot once say: “Each word in a poem should function on at least three levels.” I loved that “at least” implying the infinity of language.

In a poem, language is unlike language in journalism. It is not a straightforward communication. If language can be thought of as being vertical or horizontal, language in poetry is neither but a meandering, a layering on, a drilling into, an obfuscation, a condensation, a crystallization, a multiplicity…often to convey a truth that cannot be arrived at in a straight manner. Rather than an algebra formula, I think of language in poetry as a Venn diagram with so many circles of meaning intertwining with and colliding into each other.

Here is how Christian Bok handles language in poetry.

Soo Jin


Written by New Directions

April 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm