Monday, July 17, 2006

P-town: Day 2 at FAWC

Today was our first day of workshopping with the poet Vijay Seshadri. Read his work here and here. A few points Seshadri brought about about poetry:

--A poem is not a represenation of an idea; it is a "dramatic act"
--The meter, rhythm, and voice of a poem is determined by a poet's own physiology
--The tension inherent in a poem's structure is created by the horizontal nature of the line, since the experience of prose text is primarily vertical

I am not stating these as truisms, only as ideas Seshadri brought up. I find them fascinating and wonderful starting places for discussions about the quality and funtion of poetry. What do you think?

Although I have generally viewed poetry as artifice, as a medium through which to communicate emotion, ideas, and experience, I also, in the process of writing, have been greatly moved; so I must admit that there is a "dramatic act" going on. I cannot, however, pass on that experience unfiltered to the reader. I can only offer the poem, and the poem itself is not the experience.

Let's remember that this kind of discussion is abstract, although fascinating. The most important thing is that we read and write poetry, no matter how we define those processes.

Before I go: a plug for Cicchetti's Espresso bar at 353 Commercial Street in P-town. The best espresso in town, easily. Yummy treats, friendly service, consistently great espresso.


ufukhati said...


A good quote on poem by Seshadri. I enjoy sharing your ideas.

Happy workshopping.

Danny Sillada said...

I'm happy for you that you're immersing at the workshop Amy.

I agree with Vijay Seshadri that poetry is a "dramatic act" and in addition to that - it is a compendium of all emotions gathering all at once in one passionate encounter.

I disagree, however, that the "tension" is based on the linear structure of the poem. Poetry as the highest form of language is, by nature, a "tension" in itself, as it creates rhythms, sensual suggestions (appeal through human senses) and “imagery of realities” to be deciphered.

Amy said...

Hi ufukhati,

Thank you for stopping by, and for your good wishes. Feel free to share your ideas, too.


Yes, I am immersing. It's food for me, I think, after Cleo's death, although I still feel quite raw from it.

The points Seshadri brings up are interesting, but ultimately I think they take us in circles. We know poetry has tension, and there are probably lots of reasons for that. Line structure is one of those reasons, but it does not capture the whole of what makes poetry captivating in its own way.