July 22, 2010

Where we end and the world begins

One of my favorite poets this year has been Mark Strand. I have put up some excerpts from his poems which I read and enjoyed but to capture the essence of what his poetry means to me, I am going to use* something he wrote (as quoted in this article by Edward Byrne):
“ … it’s not that poetry reveals more about the world — it doesn’t — but it reveals more about our interactions with the world than our other modes of expression. And it doesn’t reveal more about ourselves alone in isolation, but rather it reveals that mix of self and other, self and surrounding, where the world ends and we begin, where we end and the world begins. ”
Elsewhere (in the Introduction to the Best American Poetry, 1991), Mark Strand also said this about poetry:
The way poetry has of settling our internal house in order, of formalizing emotion difficult to articulate, is one of the reasons we still depend on it in moments of crisis and during those times when it is important that we know, in so many words, what we are going through. ... Without poetry, we would have either silence or banality, the former leaving us to our own inadequate devices for experiencing illumination, the latter cheapening with generalization what we wished to have for ourselves alone, turning our experience into impoverishment, our sense of ourselves into embarrassment.
* I could never articulate what poetry has meant to me (especially in the last 2-3 years) in any meaningful way and so I have to lean on these giants of poetry to speak for me! 

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