February 20, 2014

Willa Cather: Poetry vs Prose

Willa Cather published poetry when she was young, although she is known for her later short stories and novels. Her poems seem to sink under the heavy weight of meter and rhyme, but still they reveal the world from which she drew her art:  

February 4, 2014

Thunder of New Wings

Often, I'm attuned to poetry's forms, but this essay considers its earlier stages, even of formlessness. It is difficult to separate the elements of writing that writers use. Vision, voice, and technique are interlocked, and the whole seems to exceed the sum of its parts. Lao Tze wrote:
Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other:
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.
He says what cannot be spoken. It is the province of poetry to express the inexpressible. In exploring ways that "the spirit" can intersect with poetry, I wanted to bring together some thoughts about making new work. It is a creation story, somewhat abstracted, of the way that writers create objects made of language.     

In poetry, before the voice arrives, we attune to the world with our ears. Our ear gives us a sense wonder and awakens us. Our ear gives us the vowel sounds and cadences of the language we are born into, and we feel its rhythms in our body, listening comes before speech. The ear can pick up a tune. It is our ear that leads. A poem listens. Listen, a poem, 
titled "Beginning" by James Wright: