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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Manifesto (3)

Reading poetry is a ruminative activity. Instead of being absorbed for hours in the reading of a continuous narrative, you read very short texts over and over again and then think about them for a long time. To read (really read) vast quantities of poetry is guaranteed to make you somewhat insane, since it invites solitary rumination. In my case, I am often reading three or four books of poetry at a time. Sometimes I read through a book in one sitting, or a few sittings. At other times, I'll read a few poems a day from a book. There seems to be a contradiction between the concentration required to even read a few poems well, and my desire to have read and to be constantly re-reading every significant poet in great depth. I am now the only poetry specialist in my department, so the effects of isolation are even greater.

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