Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The poet’s confusion

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A.R. Ammons

My predisposition…is to prefer confusion to oversimplified clarity, meaninglessness to neat, precise meaning, uselessness to over-directed usefulness. I do not believe that rationality can exhaust the poem, that any scheme of explanation can adequately reflect the poem, that any invented structure of symbology can exceed and thereby replace the poem.

I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity, order, meaning, structure, rationality: they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have, and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change. And the rational, critical mind is essential to making poems: it protects the real poem (which is non-rational) from blunders, misconceptions, incompetences; it weeds out the second rate. Definition, rationality, and structure are ways of seeing, but they become prisons when they blank out other ways of seeing. If we remain open-minded we shall soon find for any easy clarity an equal and opposite, so that the sum of our clarities should return us where we belong, to confusion and, hopefully, to more complicated and better assessments.

A.R. Ammons, “A Poem is a Walk”

Written by nevalalee

June 19, 2016 at 7:30 am

Posted in Writing

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