These woods are behind many empty structures. Emptied of humans, or legal ones. There is an abandoned house next to ours, with a sprawling yard of chicken coops and open gates for long gone animals. Next to it, the infamous Oronoka restaurant, once lauded for its signature steaks, free birthday cakes, glass boots full of beer, remembered for the three hours it took to eat a meal there. The restaurant closed in 2003 but locals say the tables inside are still set.
Earlier this week I read Robert Bly’s “A Wrong Turning in American Poetry,” after Matthew Zapruder posted a snippet of it on Facebook. Bly’s upset, in this essay, about American poets’ belief in Eliot’s objective correlative, and their lack of passionate interiority, which he argues Spanish poets such as Lorca possess in abundance.
Here I will say that I too love Lorca, and that I feel the dark tug of the wild imagination. (I imagine that is obvious.) So what’s my disagreement?
Do you like to tease or play games with the reader?
Funny you should ask—I just blew up at a critic who asked me the same question, though I shouldn’t have, in a list of questions for a book she is compiling of poets’ statements. I guess it depends on what you mean by “tease.” It’s all right if it’s done affectionately, though how can this be with someone you don’t know? I would like to please the reader, and I think that surprise has to be an element of this, and that may necessitate a certain amount of teasing. To shock the reader is something else again. That has to be handled with great care if you’re not going to alienate and hurt him, and I’m firmly against that, just as I disapprove of people who dress with that in mind—dye their hair blue and stick safety pins through their noses and so on. The message here seems to be merely aggression—“hey, you can’t be part of my strangeness” sort of thing. At the same time I try to dress in a way that is just slightly off, so the spectator, if he notices, will feel slightly bemused but not excluded, remembering his own imperfect mode of dress.
I am writing an essay about crying. Where have you cried? What was it like?