Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Poetry and the World

Quote of the Day

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The gift of the makers, the ornament of skill, provides an elegant diversion from long nights, or from atrocities of history; and beyond that, it is a gift that suggests by its origin that there is another place than this one—though it might be as small, hard, and isolated as the island of a single soul.

Robert Pinsky, “Poetry and the World”

Written by nevalalee

August 3, 2018 at 7:30 am

Jazz and the left margin

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Robert Pinsky

There’s a lot of cant about poetry and jazz. And yet there is something there in the idea of surprise and variation, a fairly regular structure of harmony or rhythm—the left margin, say—and all the things you can do inside it or against it. There are passages, like the last two stanzas of “Ginza Samba,” where I try to make the consonants and vowels approach a bebop sort of rhythm.

In Poetry and the World, I wrote: “Poetry is the most bodily of the arts.” A couple of friends who read it in draft said, Well, Robert, you know…dancing is probably more bodily than poetry. But I stubbornly left the passage that way without quite having worked out why I wanted to say it like that. Sometimes the ideas that mean the most to you will feel true long before you can quite formulate them or justify them. After a while, I realized that for me the medium of poetry is the column of breath rising from the diaphragm to be shaped into meaning sounds inside the mouth. That is, poetry’s medium is the individual chest and throat and mouth of whoever undertakes to say the poem—a body, and not necessarily the body of the artist or an expert as in dance.

In jazz, as in poetry, there is always that play between what’s regular and what’s wild. That has always appealed to me.

Robert Pinsky, to The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

July 30, 2016 at 7:30 am

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