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Friday, July 8, 2011

A Propensity for Density

Density is an anagram for destiny, which seems only right to me today, as every poem I write turns out to be dense. Dense in form, words piled up one after another; dense with lines all left-justified one on top of the other; dense with meaning, all ideas from my mind instead of images from my senses.
I promised myself I would write airier poems, more imagistic, with more space, more leaps. But here I am writing bricks of poems again. Perhaps it’s because I’m trying to write quickly, and it’s easier to write this way. Writing through image instead of thought takes so much more time to get right. For me, anyway.
So yesterday I told myself I would finish up the two thick poems I was working on and then start on a more spacious one. But no, I am STILL not done the two monoliths I am working on. It’s like mining bedrock instead of chasing dragonflies in the air. Pure persistence will get me through the bedrock, but I might never catch an insect that has been around since prehistoric times, net or no net, regardless of how persistent I am.
But I want to do something different. I want to write the kinds of poems I like to read. Is that just too much to ask?
As Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”

(Actually I remembered this quote as being by Blaise Pascal, and when I looked it up to verify, it turns out Pascal said something roughly equivalent, but with MORE words and LESS eloquence (as these two quotes are most commonly translated anyway--after all, neither one was originally stated in English). For the Pascal quote, and many others about fewer words taking more time, see the blog Intense Minimalism.)

Added later: Oh, I just remembered the most concise one, from Callimachus. "Mega biblion, mega kakon," which means "A big book is a big evil."

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