Saturday, December 3, 2016

December 3: Parrot in the Trees, Elizabeth Alexander, "Ars Poetica #100: I Believe"

Ars Poetica.  Translation:  the art of poetry.  I thought it would be a good way to end the week of Elizabeth Alexander with her take on the art of poetry.

I often think about the art of poetry, what moves me as a reader and writer.  I am a fairly narrative poet.  I need something to metaphorically hang my hat on when I read a poem.  A point of entry.  That point of entry is usually some kind of story.

Sometimes the story exists in the background, like a parrot hiding in tropical trees.  It's there, but it's difficult to see.  You have to concentrate to see the green feathers in the leaves and fronds.  That's the kind of poem that excites me.  That's my art of poetry.

Then again, one of my poet friends writes poems that are crazy flights of language and associative imagery, and I love his stuff, too.  So that's my art of poetry, too.

Anything can be good poetry.  Maybe Saint Marty isn't that picky.

Ars Poetica #100:  I Believe

by:  Elizabeth Alexander

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves
(though Sterling Brown said

"Every ‘I' is a dramatic ‘I'"),
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I'm sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Can you spot the parrot?

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