on accessing Poetry
(I was invited to write a guest post by Zoe Tuck.)
Sometimes I wonder about the resistance to poetry or art perceived as inaccessible. Part of art's job is to not be accessible - at least, not immediately; at least, not to the consciousness arising from the noise and frequencies of the modern, capitalistic world. I am gesturing here to places that are outside the hum of activity - hum of the ordinary - as places where poetry can linger.
I also want to discourage our tendency to want to turn our world into text that makes sense - and for our texts to complete a human supremacist arrogance that we may fully know and control the world. Poetry, at least, must escape the grasp of the Cartesian thinker.
Instead of the commonplace definition of accessibility, where we the readers want to be served a clear soup - pre-digested if possible - I wonder about a different definition for accessibility. Does the poem have doors through which we can enter, or chinks through which we can slip in/something can slip out - to mutually interact - changing our very bodies? Is the being before us translucent? Is she dark, savage, deviant, other? If she is not immediately accessible, is there something in our linguistic ecology or onto-epistemological paradigm that is not allowing us to know her?
The binaries of accessibility and inaccessibility can restrain the poet in the exercise of her occupation. (Though, really, I like certain kinds of restraints.) To stay with "the perpetual ignorance of poetry, the induced chaos from which a poem begins" (Derek Walcott) is wisdom of a different order. Then something beyond graspability can move within the poem, reach for us, allow us to become our own other.
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