Statement of Philosophy

A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

★★ The Latest Posts on Hatter's Adversaria
The Rational and SpiritualitySomething I Read #21 – C.K. Stead
Something I Read #20 – Carl JungSomething I Read #19 – Carl Jung

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"My Brother's Insomnia" by Eric Pankey – Verse Daily, March 5, 2015

from Crow-Work (Milkweed Editions, 2015)
poem found here

First lines:
A boy ties (but will not remember how)
An intricate knot that slips at the slightest tug.


the action of the prosaic and poetic


Editing note: I am rather unsatisfied with how this post turned out. I tried to keep it short (or as short as I could manage) and now wonder if the presentation suffers for it. I plan to return to this in a few days; though I am not sure what will result. — March 20


Continuing in the stream of the examination of texts by way of the material and ideational axes, we have this work which came up on the Verse Daily site. It presents an opportunity to look at the ideation axis from both the prosaic and the poetic within one, short poem. Hopefully, the very local contrast will go toward developing the ideas.

The post will be in two parts. The first will focus upon that functioning of the prosaic and poetic within the text. After that, I would like to pick up a couple specific moments in the poem for exploration.


I divide the poem into three: the first stanza; stanzas 2 and 3; and the final part, stanzas 4-6. I believe the poem rather divides itself in this manner. Though, I could see a person making a fourth section out of the final stanza, so the division is in part motivated by how I want to talk about the poem.

I'll start in stanza 4. On the surface, in the narrative, it gives two actions by the boy, two things the boy does when he cannot sleep, both of which are operated through holding his breath. Sometimes he silences his body and pretends he is dead. Other times he silences his body to listen to the very quiet sounds of the world around him. Only, the line does not say "pretends":

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Bible Study" by Tony Hoagland, Poetry Magazine

from Poetry (March 2015)
poem found here

First lines:
Who would have imagined that I would have to go
a million miles away from the place where I was born


returning to the definition of poetry


The previous post, about the moment from Frozen, was meant to set up a theme for upcoming posts: texts with instances where attention to detail – or the lack thereof – has a discernible effect upon the experience and reception of the text. But you take what you get. "Bible Study" perhaps could be used to that end, but I find it might find greater use if brought as an example (or test case) for the theme that was overtly present in many of the posts over the last year: that of the question of "what is 'poetry'?"; more specifically, the verse-prose, poetic-prosaic axes that I began discussing in the post about the work "Hymn to Life" (another text found on the electronic pages of the Poetry site).

I have said it before but it bears repeating: The single most troublesome event for me in writing this blog is the use of the words poetry, poem, and poet. Since I have not (and will not) take time with every post at the first use of either word to give once again definition as they are used on this blog, it is assured that most people, when they read these posts, will wholly – and I mean entirely – misread the words. The words play within two contexts: the popular and the literary ("literary," here, as in the academic or "serious" discourse about literature). Within popular usage, it is fair to have "poetry" be defined, to be blunt, as any text that visually looks like poetry (or, even, any text that seems like poetry to the speaker). After all the popular discourse is not based in theory or participant in criticism.[FN] The word can rightly serve a most general purpose.

[FN] As well, the word function primarily within the nomic – are mostly generic, convention driven – and the discourse of poplit seems only infrequently, less so genuinely, to be concerned with the aesthetic. But that is another discussion.

But in discourse about literature qua literature, the use of the word demands some degree of basis.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Let it Go," from Frozen

Frozen directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
"Let It Go" sung by Idina Menzel, written and composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez


an object lesson in brilliance


That's right. First post in a month; second in four months, and I'm going to Frozen. Not only Frozen but "Let It Go." As I said elsewhere, deal with it. (I'll get to Wallace Stevens in the end, so don't have a fit.)

This is the official (Disney UK) sing-a-long version of the song as found on Youtube. I have no idea how it might be possible, but if you speak English and have somehow avoided familiarity with the song, or if you haven't seen the movie itself, give a listen and a watch before we continue.



Sorry if that song get's stuck in your head. It's been playing in my brain for two weeks, now.

To say, if you haven't seen Frozen it is well worth the viewing. And while you're at it, you probably haven't seen Brave either and you should see that as well (it's even better than Frozen, though it's Pixar and Frozen is Disney). It was one of the best films produced in the US that year. I never thought I'd say it, but after Tangled (which is also really good) and Frozen, it looks like Pixar hooking up with Disney was a net positive for both sides. Creatively the two films are orders of magnitude above the pablum (if not occasional stupidity) Disney had been putting out over the previous many decades (ok, Hercules has its assets). And Frozen is a complete break from the normal Disney princess story-lines. But I digress.

My point of focus here is but three notes. And I am not concerned only with the song but with the song as part of the film: the events on the screen and the integration of the song with the events on the screen are both integral to my point. What I am going to do here is not complex or a deep analysis. I simply want you to see one moment in the music and film. To see that moment will require comparing it to the other two iterations of the that moment (the opening "let it go"s of the three choruses) later in the film. Hopefully I can set the stage here so you can see what I see. Once there, I have three rather simple conclusions. Simple, even perhaps obvious, but profound within the realm of creative endeavor.