Friday, August 09, 2013

On writing #7 : Pearl Pirie

Use of Writing
Pearl Pirie

What is writing good for? Writing is not a direct path. It may be a lousy strategy. When there are better ones, the point is to get to goal, not to make poetry a gofer. It's not as if poetry will stop unless it gets time to play dress up by the couch. It's the boy scout that will carry indignant middle aged men across the street, given no assignment at all.

Writing is not a gentle-handed masseuse. it is not a therapist of the under(cash-economy)employed but it may play that role in the wee hours with the blinds down. is it pre-prayer?

Poetry might not only be perceptive. It might be another perceptual organ. It feels outwards for resistances and bliss routes, fumbles to retrain the damaged bits and restrain the oafs from smacking their over-energetic limbs into passersby in their clumsiness. Perhaps writing is a parent to the other selves, guiding, caring, adding its higher vantage point or offbeat blown raspberry.

It is there to turn a knotted gut and a deep muscle cramp and resistance into a listening "what?" and a "you seem to mean this" and to discern the difference between calamity and calm and the forced carl of hoping the angel of death will mistake me for a rag mat and keep on going.

Sometimes writing comes easy, sometimes hard. When the body/mind/poem is spent, I leave it. reread it, re-edit. A b.s. buzzer may go off, but at least the body is released from its pent and we can start, body and I. The preliminaries are out of the way.

If you can stop, do. I made my first chapbook in primary school and two more in high school and mostly beavered away thrashing as emphatic as a mute signing to the blind for the next few years. 15 years or so in, I pulled out an exacto and cut myself out from behind a bit of wallpaper and actually talked to some poets, in person. It's fine to talk to yourself. Even helpful to keep the crazies away if you look crazier than them. But writing comes into its glory when it communicates.

I want to make poetry for long enough to begin to not just change stylistically, but improve. Was it Marcus Aurelius who said to make a better poem, you have to live and be a better poem? That confines to incremental increases.

In the preface to Changing on the Fly George Bowering observes how it's pretty common for people to write poems, because someone died or they had a big experience. What's distinctive? "It's just that most people never try to write better poetry; they don't read books of poetry that will teach them how to do it. Even many ones that do drop out early. I have known young poets who write the best lyric poetry of our young years, and then went on to other line of work".

Writing has its focus in reading. Reading is more efficient than going to readings, as useful as it is to talk with colleagues, or have an evening outside one's head. But listening to poetry is like getting written instructions or having to watch a video for them. I can take reading at whatever pace I need for my uptake by similarity to what I know and my energy. I can change streams mid-phrase or read for 5 hours. Why I am I telling you this? You know.

That community to communicate with may be the crowd within trying to sort itself, or shout other parts down. Poetry may be taught articulacy and so instruct the rest of the mob who doesn't give whit for letters but can use the insights into how human nature or nature operates, all the little cause and effects.

Writing is I suppose a sort of companion, to build a better self, to try out ideas, think through words where they are on a digital or physical page. Out there they can be manipulated. They have more solidity when they have sound than when they are just restless pacing in one corner of the mind's busy square.

It's important to me not to let poetry stray too far into making nice stories or florid runs of descriptions without a point. Writing needs time apart to listen and synthesize but it also needs other minds to complete it. It needs a reader to refine how to say things so that it can hook. Unless your internalized ideal readers are so accurate, or your articulacy so great, that you no longer need to touch ground with real people anymore.

I want to make a poetry that I want to read, and that others gain from reading. I want poetry that is alert enough to quip, self-assured enough to joke and sit in stillness long enough to discern the necessity of both play and the essence and wisdom and underpinnings from the general noise and dross. I want poetry that shows me something specific that I didn't know before that is true and said with skill. I want to make a poetry that models for myself how to be with others with compassion despite. With comprehension despite. With thriving despite.

Pearl Pirie authored two poetry collections been shed bore (Chaudiere Books, 2010) and Thirsts (Snare, 2011) and various poetry chapbooks. She has given workshops and since 2009 has run the Tree Seed Workshops. She has phafours micropress out of Ottawa, Canada. She is working on a few manuscripts, or rather, they are working on her.

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