Thursday, May 22, 2014

Florence, an Apartment Building, and Poetry

A 9x12 oil of an apartment building in Florence.   Actually it was across the street from our hotel window.

One of our Italian tour participants was a delightful poet, Lois Marie Harrod, and on the flight home I read the following by Sven Birkerts about poetry, which I offer in honor of Lois, and because I think that poetry is similar to painting, despite the obvious differences:

"The poet speaks on behalf of the least tangible, but also possibly deepest, awareness that we possess.  But it is an awareness so elusive, so fitful in its arrivals, that we mainly live in forgetfulness.  Poetry is the one reminder, the line of connection.  The poem is a memory flash of a meaning that exceeds us, that hovers almost completely out of our reach.  If we could possess it--and we can't except in glimpses--we would know that being, consciousness, is not for nothing, even if it is clearly bracketed by the moments of our birth and death.
Being contains the solution for itself,  the explanation, and poetry happens when being connects with its principle.  It need not be dictated by a Muse, but it does not, ever, arrive out of daylight consciousness.  Poetry is an intrusion, an over-and-above that sets almost everything else for the moment at naught.  I am not a poet, but I have felt the touch of poetry, enough that I understand it as a power, a matter for awe.  The experience of a true poem is the experience of being awestruck.  By the words, the beauty, but more by the revelation in the self of an awareness, a feeling, that temporarily banishes other considerations."

Painting for me is the means to try to capture what is also a glimpse, which is to see something but not quite,  that hints at so much more beyond the glimpse.

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