Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not a Tuesday Poem - but good advice to poets!

Just reading Jack Gilbert's Paris Review Interview and came across this quote:

But the most important day in my career as a writer was when Linda said, Did you ever think of listening to your poems? And my poetry changed. I didn’t give up making precreated poetry, but you have to write a poem the way you ride a horse—you have to know what to do with it. You have to be in charge of a horse or it will eat all day—you’ll never get back to the barn. But if you tell the horse how to be a horse, if you force it, the horse will probably break a leg. The horse and rider have to be together.
I really like the idea of listening to a poem.

I was introduced to Jack Gilbert by Mal Morgan - another poet who wrote plainsong poems with enormous heart.  Poems from Gilbert's The Great Fires still haunt me. And how wonderful, to be haunted by poems.


Ben Hur said...

Very good advice and how often I forget to do it. Reading a draft of a poem aloud can often alert a poet to when the rhythm falters or if a line sounds clunky. Poetry, after all, was originally very much an oral art. That's why I like to read and listen to other poets read their poems at poetry readings.

Helen McKinlay said...

Yes it great to be reminded of this by someone else. I really push reading aloud but soemtimes forget to do it. It is sooooooo important!

Cattyrox said...

I'm sure Gilbert meant to literally read a poem out loud, because we all know how that can revise a line or phrase - but I also think he meant listen to the poem's direction/intention. You know those times when you sit down with the idea of saying one thing and a different idea edges in and how you can lose the poem by forcing it into the original shaped idea. Like forcing a horse over a jump he can't handle, or riding a spooked horse past something he hates.