Monday, April 13, 2009

necessary, but not

"I have read - binged on - poetry since I was a very small child, but must admit that I have rarely felt passionate about more than two or three individual poems in any one publication. I 'love' poetry, in the abstract. I don't 'love' most poems, to be quite honest. Even among my most admired - say, Gwen Harwood, John Donne, TS Eliot - there is only a handful that I feel absolutely must exist if the world is to continue to function. The rest, I think, are practice: necessary, but not necessarily for public consumption."

- Jen Webb, 'Poetry in Australia and the John Leonard Press', Text Journal, Vol 12 No 2, October 2008.


  1. poetry is tightly related or even made of metaphors isn't it? of course there are exceptions?

    Here are two scientific theories:
    1."Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature."

    2."metaphor a fundamental mechanism that allows us to apply Stone Age ways of thinking to abstract subject matters"

    My faviourite poets are edgar alan poe and jacques prevert, but I do not read or like poetry much.

  2. On one level poetry is constructed from language, which can be described as 'fundamentally metaphorical in nature' (as per your first quote).

    For me, poetry = image-sound-text. Poetry tends to mine, explore and accentuate the image-casting and aural/musical properties of language. Poetry is also capable of 'turning language upon itself' (e.g. in language poetry), and I'm as much interested in this last aspect as the other two.

    I find it interesting that you 'do not read or like poetry much', yet you're engaging with poets in the blogosphere. Good for you.

  3. It shows you are a poet. It is beautifull the way you said what you thought.

    I relate in the blogosphere with poets because I got intrested recently in poetry, probably it is related to the fact that I am doing research about the human language.

  4. such a sensible thing jen says here. mind you, i can't imagine her being any other way.

    (i was at a small poem workshop today - do we need to love all 'poems'? probably not...)

  5. Hey Derek,

    Yeah, to me this pointed towards the writing of poems as ongoing process rather than a striving after the 'perfected art object'. The poem as provisional or in-progress rather than completed or perfected.

    "I 'love' poetry in the abstract. I don't 'love' most poems, to be quite honest." I admire Webb's honesty here. I'd say it's true for me too. Even when it comes to my favourite poets, I'd hesitate to say that I love most of their work.

    Sometimes I think it's the potentialities or possibilities of poetry that keep me hooked, rather than the fulfillment thereof. By analogy, in an experiment, the hypothesis can prove more fascinating than the results. Although I'd say it's when the results are unexpected or 'make no sense' that I really start to get interested... ;)