I’m the featured poet
at The Bakery this month.One of the
things the featured poets have done is to write artist statements, so I wrote
one. Turns out, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I thought I would just knock it
out. I couldn’t. I had to sit with it a bit, and even so, this kind of mumbling
half-statement was what I came up with:
I’ve given up. I don’t know of a better or smarter-sounding
way to say it, even though “given up” isn’t quite it either. I feel it’s more
active than that, how I feel. I’m feeling restless, is all. I don’t think art,
by its nature, is any more exalted than other forms of behavior. Well, I do
feel it’s more exalted than many things, but I don’t think artists are like
priests. Then again, maybe some are. I like the idea that there’s a spiritual
dimension to art, but I also like as much the idea that there’s a spiritual
dimension to plumbing. This is the nature of my restlessness.
I’ve never much believed in “voice,” for instance.
I’ve given up categories and dimensions, for now. I’ve given
up that kind of thinking about art. It bores me. Once, it thrilled me, then it
frustrated me, and now it bores me. It doesn’t bore others, though, and I
continue to enjoy many things others have to say about such categories and
dimensions (except maybe the conversation about whether prose poetry is really
poetry or not; that one, I feel, is a waste of time and should have been done a
hundred years ago).
Participating with art is a most excellent thing to do with
one’s time. I wish more people did it. But, even so, I haven’t seen any
evidence that art makes anyone better, more moral, and etc. I’m taken with art
more than I’m taken with most other things, but still, I’m also taken with
other things. I like soccer. Art is not everything, and, by the same reasoning,
everything is not art. I like reminding myself of that. A good soccer game is
not like a poem. I think poems are like poems, and poems are infinitely
variable. The face of art is always inscrutable, and what we find there is what
we bring to it. These are formal movements.
That’s what I thought this morning. It was early, forgive
me. Now it’s the evening, and as I’m looking back at it, it almost looks like a
break-up note. “Dear Art,” or something. But I don’t feel the least like
breaking up. I like our relationship and I’m certain we can work things out. I
feel no crisis of conscience or faith. And even if there is some crisis, if
this were a crisis, I’d just end up making poems about it. What kind of a
crisis is that?
Lately, within this restlessness, I’ve been wandering around
with how I approach writing poems. The poems here represent two of those
wanderings. One is what came of my thinking about sentences, the other came
from my thinking about the ways we think of memories, though both contain
sentences as well as memories. All doors are windows, as someone might say, if
one wanted to sound all mysterious about it. Or maybe if one were simply trying
to describe how things are.
A selection of new poems can be found on this page (after
the above statement):