Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mark Strand - New Letters 72.2

Mark Strand
New Letters Vol. 72 No 2

Exerpts from the interview:

It could also be that the old, worn-out situations that one encounters in a lot of poetry—poems about growing up, or having a hard time, or my mom did this, or my dad did that—get kind of stale after awhile.

I think often a poem will take the place of something lost. It could be the recovery of the sensation of loss. . . . I think, maybe I write to recover a sensation or the feel of an experience. It’s usually so abstracted that I can deal with the feeling and not reconstruct the original scene, but make a new one.

What I mean to say is, it’s not the story of my life, but it’s the character of my inner life that is projected into these poems. I don’t want my poems to be confused with what’s generally considered the life I live. That’s why I make up my poems.

I believe that certain poets—the poets I really like—create a world, and that’s a world that is wholly dependant on the language they’ve made their own. When you read Wallace Stevens, you’re in the world of Stevens. Not the world of his everyday affairs but the world that he’s managed to make up. It’s a metaphorical world, a world that can stand beside the world of actual events and not be diminished by them. And not necessarily be dependant on them by making reference to them. A lot of poets tell stories, and they move back and forth between the actuality of their lives and the poems that they write; I’d just as soon leave the actuality of my life, or of my external life, out of my poems and try to create an environment for the actuality of my inner life.

. . . there are certain poets who satisfy their need for convenient markers to tell them exactly where they are in the poem. People want to hear stories, and there are a lot of poets who say, I went to the store today and I . . .

Language sets off so many things. It’s a conduit for so much, and the care that poets bring to the writing of poems, the scrupulous attention to sound and sense, is something that helps keep language alive, but not only alive, it helps keep language honest and responsive to what we feel we must say at our human best.

. . . if my poems were circumscribed entirely by my interest in poetry, they would offer very little to people.

I was probably an easier person to interview years ago. My opinions are merely opinions. I don’t know why I write, except that I enjoy writing and believe in the ultimate value of poetry.

I wish I had written more poems . . .


I like what he has to say here about "reconstructing the scene," etc. One can think of the importance of, and much has been said and written regarding, the reconstruction of scenes . . . and now here's this other view. The view that says the reconstructed scene, the reconstituted scene, is secondary, and therefore belated . . . while possibly the constructed scene can stand as a primary world. The alternate world, yes perhaps, but a world unto itself.

I like that idea. It goes well with Stevens' Necessary Fiction, and much of what he termed the ongoing history of the irrational in poetry.

The world we manage to salvage from the interior life of this world, not the simulacra of this world. A world.

Anyway, that's how I read it.


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