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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Existence of Poets

Being a poet is to know you do not exist by poetry. ~David Ignatow



Carol said...

I guess I would reply to that comment in this way: I exist in writing poetry, which means an attentiveness to the world. But personally, I think his line sounds too facile. Too glib.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Carol, thanks for responding. I have been thinking a lot recently about how writing poetry is sometimes the only proof I have for my own existence, so when I came across this quote, I was stopped short.

It seemed to me like Ignatow was saying that knowing one does NOT exist by poetry is to be a poet. And I couldn't believe he meant poets do not exist by/through their poetry, but that they exist by something else. Perhaps this is what you meant,that poets exist by their attentiveness to the world which results in poetry, but they do not exist by their poetry?

The alternate reading that I can find is that poets learn that they do not exist, and that is learned through/by poetry, and that makes no sense to me. Or rather, it makes too much sense to me sometimes, and frightens me.