The lies of poetry

Upon some questions I was asked on January the 13th


What is poetry for you?

Well, to answer your question I should write down a short essay at least, though it sounds quite strange as direct questions should have straight answers likewise. But how to do with poetry? If you asked me “Is it raining there?” I wouldn’t check any pressure point on some isobar or make any calculation. I would just push aside the curtain, have a look outside and answer: “No, it isn’t!” or “Yes, it is!”. And I would exactly know whether I have told you the truth or not.
When dealing with poetry, instead, one somehow behaves like an unintentional thief or a liar. Once a single verse is written, others will soon come again in response to it, somehow to correct it or make that statement a little more precise at least. Thus the aim is that of revealing a huge truth by means of many different little lies.
So, in short, my first little lie to you is this: poetry is my other body and words are its main language-sensitive organ, that is to say: “Is it raining here?”, “Well, there’s pretty much grey light falling through my panes”.


When did you read a poem last?

Yesterday I did. I was walking along a pebbly shore, reading Metamorphosis by Gertrud Kolmar, in a certain way gauging her verses step by step as with a whole set of decimals to calculate the sum of. Ever since I was a young student in Literature, I have been reckless with this game: to try to get to a sort of rhyming breathing and let the physical body flow across the hidden grooves of papers, of meaning, to the subtle matter of language. Once you have caught the rhythm, you can be walking miles away, be completely free.
I could see clues of poetry everywhere: every hit stone was a syllable, every seagull cry a blue vowel. All of these things were self-evident and verses likewise, in such a way that you couldn’t doubt of poetry without doubting of yourself and of the world as well.


What role do you play in the process of writing?

I have never been capable of picking out the barely perceptible hole, which suddenly opens somewhere when I start writing. It has nothing to do with my pen tip either. One word drips off first then a whole pipeline of words, from some invisible source or psychic reservoir which pours down onto the white papers before my eyes. I can collect everything on Earth within a single text then. Maybe that’s the river I have got flowing in my imagination and I can’t make a real choice in it: words come unbounded first, the meaning go sharply linking later on. I let the well known things unsaid and provoke the seemingly unsayable ones by means of images and rhythm. Everything is close enough to some mute algebraic exercise upon the mystery of the many numbers infinitely pleated to stay all within a short straight line. That’s how verses appear to me: dense straight lines, either shorter or longer ones, full of barely perceptible holes and dots.


What about the growth of a poetry net through the web?

However pessimistic I might be about that, I must be confident of the opportunities of a growing net which will eventually bring new readers to poetry. But to do so, a new true poetry community must first raise and real democracy be established among authors to really welcome anyone. Otherwise all of us will be just part of some patched frame which seemingly contradictory pulses coexist within.
Poetry must not be that practical attitude to gain some mysterious power or give one’s compulsive ego outlet but a gift sometimes even hard to accept.
I can’t say how the situation is like in your country, while it has been a real drama here. Most people don’t read poetry at all but many of them think they are poets or they want to be considered as such at least. This means that there’s not so much interest in poetry itself, but in the figure of poet. Why poets still appeal so much to people’s fantasy remains unsaid.


Do you think there’s a way to teach poetry?

I don’t think so. No recipe can turn any scattered experience or heap of lines into a real poem. The only way to “teach” oneself poetry is to read over and over again a huge amount of verses – of real ones, I mean – to help one’s invisible ear decode silence and rhythm. That is not enough actually, but you get an attentive reader at least. One must be endowed with a certain talent too to write a poetic response to someone else’s verses, to get to that personal, reciprocal dialogue with the ancient and the contemporary together, which makes poetry an inextinguishable flow across the centuries. Otherwise it’s only an uncontrolled outlet of generous but naïve feelings. That is why it is so important to dedicate one’s heart to pure reading: poetry needs silence to soak in for long.



4 thoughts on “The lies of poetry

  1. Well, thanks for your asking. :-)
    We both, me and my little baby, are well, now (though my doctor said me, that I must stop going to work and so since the start of January I am at home … and will be, unfortunately). But the advantage is, that now I have much more free time for reading and my hobbies and for preparing of our flat for that my little sweetheart. By the way, doctor said me, that we will have girl. :-)


  2. Hey very interesting reading … especially I like your first answer, and of course, I agree nobody should “learn” poetry, everybody must feel it inside of his/her head and body … through his/her own verses on the paper.
    So have a nice “rainy” day :-)


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