Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jack Spicer || from Vancouver Lecture I, 06.13.1965

The following paragraphs are opening material to a longer article found on poet John Gallagher's site: Nothing to Say and Saying It. Click on the article to read more information.

The third paragraph is relevant to class lectures detailing "what actually IS poetry?" — There is a point of inspiration that arrives outside of the poet's own personality and intellect. A matter of subconscious influence from a Prime Source. That matter which separates us from other animal species.

But [W.B. Yeats] finally decided he’d ask a question or two of the spooks as Georgie was in her trance. And he asked a rather good question. He asked, “What are you here for?” And the spooks replied, “We’re here to give metaphors for your poetry.”

That’s something which is in all English department lectures now, but it was the first thing since Blake on the business of taking poetry as coming from the outside rather than from the inside. In other words, instead of the poet being a beautiful machine which manufactured the current itself, did everything for itself – almost a perpetual motion machine of emotion until the poet’s heart broke or it was burned on the beach like Shelley’s – instead there was something from the Outside coming in.

Now the difference between “We have come to bring metaphors for your poetry” and what I think most poets who I consider good poets today believe – and this would include people as opposite in their own ways as, say, Eliot on one hand and Duncan on the other – is essentially that there is an Outside to the poet. Now what the Outside is like is described differently by different poets. And some of them believe that there’s a welling up of the subconscious or of the racial memory or the this or the that, and they try to put it inside the poet. Others take it from the Outside. Olson’s idea of energy and projective verse is something that comes from the Outside.

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