Paul Klee’s Diaries

When I was 17 I had only just discovered modern painting. I had a book of Paul Klee's paintings that I would pour over & over. It is hard for me to describe the sense of wonder I felt looking at these images. I was also looking at other 20th century painters & reading Modernist poetry, but that little book of Klee reproductions moved me in ways I still find mysterious. For some reason, I was just now thinking of my discovery of Klee's Diaries. This was the 1960s, long before internet book searches, so the fact that I discovered the diaries is nothing short of amazing. I haven't though about the book in years & I no longer have the copy I bought in high school, though I see from a quick search that it's still in print. What I remember most fondly is the way Klee collected lists of interesting rhymes for possible poems. His paintings, thinking about it now, give evidence of Klee's having also collected bits of the visual field for use in paintings. What I like about this -- what moves me about it -- is the empiricism of the project. The love of the physical bits & pieces. That is what my poetry has been about, at bottom, that ephemeral, impossible connection between the word & the thing. This has a lot to do with my defense of sincerity in the last couple of posts &on the Poetryetc discussion list.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.