Am I Fooling Myself?

Sometimes, writing posts here, or sending emails to friends, I feel like a fraud. Am I not just about the perfect Zen student facing a terminal illness? Writing about the birds & moon. I am sometimes afraid, I am sometimes  angry & resentful, but not much of it shows up here. It's not that those observations are false, but isn't this all supposed to be messier, more shapeless? Meaner. No doubt those states of mind are coming sometime--but there is no harm in trying to live clearly in the meantime. Nevertheless, I need to be very careful of this Perfect Zen Student persona. So call me out if you see me getting into my robe here on the blog--or anywhere, for that matter.

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.

5 thoughts on “Am I Fooling Myself?”

  1. thanks, Ed. For me too, mostly. And I haven’t forgotten about the big poem–just taking a bit longer to organize.

  2. Say today is the16th why not jumpstart the poem by taking that number of lines every 16 lines. Then stop. The next day perhaps, take 17 lines also starting from the top. Then stop. On the 18th begin from the bottom of the big piece (however well you have it organized) going up 18 lines. On the 19th go up that many lines. When you have that group of lines (16+17+18+19) and let yourself be seated at a viewing table outside your normal perspective. It may not tell you anything I know but you will be spared of 4 days of stressful pressuring.
    At this juncture, see what happens.

    Because you need (as anyone in this fight might) to be saved from the flooding in the dance of the broomsticks. (I reference here music of Dukas of about 75 years ago he did for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
    PLUS all this can be the most fun you can have in the quandry quary, and you should think it is dilly-dallying. All part process and part OZ as James Broughton might suggest.

    And as Osip Mandelstam says in his CONVERSATION ABOUT DANTE (that Brown and Hughes translated and I found in THE SELECTED POEMS OF OSIP MANDELSTAM tr by Clarence Brown and W.S.Merwin, NY Rev Bks pbk 1973) “Poetic speech is a crossbred process….” where at the end point he concludes “Poetic material has no voice. It does not paint and it does not express itself in words. It knows no form….This is the law of reversible and convertible poetic material, which exists only in the performing impulse.”

    So we have play and impulse from this odd couple Broughton & Mandelstam. This next to Stevens & Stein.

    yr mockingbird pal, Ed

  3. Ed, I like this idea & will but it to the test, though it’s not so much that I’m stuck as looking for a meaningful structure. Over the last couple of days I have roughed out in notebook form the rest of what goes into the poem. Now, I need to slug it out with lines & line breaks–though I may wind up living some parts in what they call prose.

    1. Glad to hear it is coming along. Thought you may be sloughing it off with everything else coming at you. (Funny word “sloughing” — it also seems to imply to me “shedding”. The way one word leads to another could keep you going until you have passed through many doorways and you get either lost as in a labyrinth or just off in a new direction: the train of thoughts lead or don’t lead but merely head-out leaving the first thought back there still getting dressed with nowhere to go.)

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