Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Poetry, fiction, hippos--

STRAY THOUGHTS, LITERARY AND OTHERWISE--
ANIMAL,VEGETABLE, NO MINERAL

1. When you buy a gigantic cauliflower, no one will notice and so somebody else will buy another gigantic cauliflower, and then there will be no room in the fridg inn.

2. When hippos poop in the water, they twirl their tails in circles and attract fish. (This sort of thing is what you learn when your husband goes to Mozambique for a month and then comes back.) Perhaps Mattel would be interested.

3. I no longer have any patience for lists that tell me something like what should be in a narrative poem and give cleverish advice. I've written a long narrative poem that's soon to come out, and I'd rather somebody read it than read a list, just as I'd rather read a writer's narrative poem than his/her lists about what they want in narrative poems. Is it that I'm beginning to think that people read these clever lists about a piece of art and then don't encounter the art? Meanwhile, I am committing a list. Woe is me.

4. To clarify, although primarily to two or three concerned parties: although at times I am ensnared by genre terminology because it's the way so many people look at books, I'm really just a Sendakian divider of books into good and not-good. I don't care about genre and sorting and classification. Just give me the good.

5. Sinyavsky quote plucked from an Amazon review: "In principle only miracles are worth writing about--as the fairy tales knew. And if we ever decide to tell about ordinary things, we should show them in a supernatural light. The art of narrative is to see things like this."

6. Another Sinyavsky: "Art does nothing but convert matter into spirit."

7. Me, one minute after midnight: One reason that poetry is a higher art (when it is a higher art) than the novel is that one can approach perfection with a poem, whereas a novelist is doomed to throw in a wrench and the kitchen sink.

7 comments:

  1. This seems like a list, but a poemish transcendent one.

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  2. Must be the supernatural light invoked by Sinyavsky aka Tertz.

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  3. Hmm, I'm inspired to write a long narrative poem about hippos....

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  4. Do, please! And while you're at it, I shall go eat fish tacos with two painter friends...

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  5. Ayes to #1.
    #2 is funny.
    #3. I'm a list person, but that doesn't apply to art except maybe 'go make art"
    #4. I don't care about genre either, follow your bliss!
    #5 & #6. Love these quotes.
    #7. Really? You need to get some sleep.

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  6. I like your list too! Yes, the novel is simply a Baggy Monster and many strange things are in its belly. Although then you look at something like "The Scarlet Letter" and think that it can be well-formed indeed.

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  7. Although after that you have to go and look at Hawthorne's "The Marble Faun" and change your mind...

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.