Sunday, June 21, 2020


A Place for the Genuine
by John Green
in Poetry (June 2020)

I've been reading Space Struck, Paige Lewis' book of poems, and there's this part that goes

I think
about how hard it is for me to believe

in the first Adam because if Adam
had the power to name everything,
everything would be named Adam.

--From Last Night I Dreamed I Made Myself

I'm desperate for names, but for me naming is fraught and complicated, because I do not trust myself not to name everything John.

and the last paragraph

All I'm really trying to do is stay alive with my attention intact, and ultimately that's why I need poetry. It reveals new truths to me, and re-reveals what I though I knew.

In "Poetry" Marianne Moore famously wrote that reading poetry "with a perfect contempt for it, one/discovers that there is in/it after all, a place for the genuine."

I didn't know, of course, how much I needed a place for the genuine until Moore named it for me. I don’t know anything isn't named Adam until it gets named for me.

I know that for some people thought is not so dependent upon language and understanding not so contingent upon names. That's OK. 

I'm just telling you that I need poetry, that it is not an indulgence or luxury for me, but the best antidote to mere despair that I can find at the moment, that it helps me to feel un-alone even way down deep where the loneliness would otherwise be absolute. 

I realize I am preaching to the choir here, but I need you to keep singing, so.


Beth Carpenter said...

"...spaces for forgetting." I'm turning that over in my mind, wondering if what the poet meant is the same as what I hear. Wondering if it matters.

I think of hurts and slights and the unintentional bumps and bruises that come from living in the same space as others, and of a space where all is forgiven and forgotten, where there is peace.

nightsmusic said...

Happy Sunday all!

AJ Blythe said...

When times are tough, it is so important to be able to recognise in ourselves what we need, and to also recognise in others what they need. When living in close quarters for lockdown, finding that "space for living and space for forgetting" gets tough.

I hope everyone is finding that thing that brings them joy.

Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda said...

“Re-reveals what I thought I knew”— ain’t that the truth.

PS Darn Otto.

MA Hudson said...

I don't read much actual poetry but I get the same effect I pick up Ulysses and read a few pages. It always takes me to a calm and tranquil place, which is the opposite effect of the times I've tried to read it as a complete novel!