Monday, February 14, 2011

Poems and interpreting voices

Our poems are conversations in every meaningful sense. They are an exchange between ourselves and those parts of ourselves that belong to other people [the dead as much as the living], that we owe to them. Intimate whisperings, productive tensions. They challenge and tease us, lead us to say things we have not thought to say. They give us the courage to have a self and to lose it too, which is surely the most we can ask of any conversation.

...that imaginative cosmology of interpenetrating voices that we all inhabit, in literature and in life. We are made up of voice, and we are the relations between voices, inside and out. They are our judgement and our redemption, our ownness and our generosity, our origin and our promise. Perhaps something like their revelation is possible in real conversation. It may be, after all, what we live for. As Yeats says, “what do we know but that we face / one another in this place?” I suppose there will always be something ethereal and unreal about conversations as long as I feel as anxious about them as I do. But in every ghostly encounter—the ones we have with friends at Tim Hortons, and the ones we listen for when we write—we recognize the voices we love, and we think: it is good of them to come back the way they do, share a part of themselves with us, good to hear them again. And our hearts warm to a quiet tryst of living voices, ones that, if we’re lucky, will choir among themselves long afterward. - Jeffery Donaldson

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