Thursday, December 30, 2010

Readings: Why Is a Poem a Poem?

Included in the anthology The ABCs of Robert Lax, is an interesting essay by R.C. Kenedy, (yes, Virginia, that’s how he spells his name) entitled (surprisingly enough) “Robert Lax”. Here is an excerpt from that essay, which I found to be instructive, on the subject of poetry:

Poetry begins where objects renounce their own identity in order to become other than merely-themselves. But this is not the whole story. They go through a stage of becoming in order to assert their existence. The question ‘when is a table not a table’ is only a starting point – and the answer (which may declare that, when burnt, it becomes firewood) is not poetry’s chief concern. Between the question and the answer there is a circular path, which runs through the points of the inspiration, to give a framework – which is meant to define a complete and allusive world. In the arbitrary example of the burnt table, the image is capable of referring the potential reader to poverty and its connotations, or to the axiomatic obsolescence of all matter, whether flesh, word or stone. This possibility is the domain of poetry and the dramatically cited instance, which is vouched for by the poet’s passion, confronts actual existence and observes its changes. The vulnerable is-ness of the object need not pass through the stages of becoming to attest the vast confraternity of everything which has a place in time.

Please take careful notes: this will be on the final!