Present continuous*

Found in an old notebook: Charles Simic, ‘The Metaphysician in the Dark: An Interview By Bruce Weigl,’ American Poetry Review, September-October 1991, 5-13:

‘Poetry is the archeology of the self. The bits and pieces one keeps digging up belong to the world – everybody’s world. It’s a paradox that has always amused me. Just when you think you’re most subjective, you meet everybody else’.

Later: ‘I want to make a poem, not talk about my life’.

And: ‘I continue to believe that poetry says more about the psychic life of an age than any other art’.

I remember I liked the ‘archeology’, with its sense of detachment as well as interest, things brought to language, creating story around fragments, going deeper. And though I don’t remember the context of the second quote, on re-readings it both affirmed the possibility of writing poems that aren’t ‘talk about my life’, and sounded like the lament of a twenty-first-century poet trying to resist marketing pressure. The third quote unsettles me, though: does poetry continue to say more about the psychic life of this age than any other art?
 

* The photograph here is a view of Present continuous by Henk Visch (taken in a Munich street, June 2011).

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