Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art is a mixture of moral urgency and technical expertise

Poems are hypothetical sites of speculation, not position papers. They do not exist on the same plane as actual life; they are not votes, they are not uttered from a podium or a pulpit, they are not essays. They are products of reverie. They are expert experiments in imagining symbols for a state of affairs, and of arranging language to suit; they are not propositions to be agreed or disagreed with. Each poem is a new personal venture made functional by technical expertise; the poet's moral urgency in writing is as real, needless to say, as his technical skill, but moral urgency alone never made a poem. On the other hand, technical expertise alone does not suffice, either. Form is the necessary and skilled embodiment of the poet's moral urgency, the poet's method of self-revelation. - Helen Vendler


  1. I agree with the insight at the heart of what you are saying, but differ in how I would formulate it. Poetic thought and expression does not exist in another order of reality to conceptualised and objective reality; it is rather that the two moments are the view of life at two poles of our subjectivity.

    The poetic emerges from the emotional, sensuous and existential moments in our experience, and seeks to envoke this empathetically. Other object-concept oriented thinking and wrighting emerges in our socialised mind - our intellect, and is alienated from sensuous ant amotional life.

    I simply to not beleive that technical expertise has anything to do with the writing of poetry; only in its refinement and interpretation. The poet is most decidely absent when they are giving birth to poetry; at least that's my view.


  2. Ah yes, the weight of imagination and craft. What beautiful interplay within this pas-de-deux.