I had the twenty-four hour stomach-flu yesterday. I hate that feeling where the body is sick but the mind isn't so you're just laying there in bed, itching to do anything else. I'd not move for awhile, feel better and roll over to get outta bed and get whammed again. Today, it is such a joy not to feel the rumblings in my stomach and to actually eat something.
I'm reading Poetry As Survival by Gregory Orr, well, more accurately, I've picked it back up again. There are so many things he writes that I agree with / feel strongly about, such as:
The jeopardy of poetry-making is deeply connected to the jeopardy of life itself (48)
...language itself is a form of sight (31)
The essential point is that for a poem to move us it must bring us near our own threshold. We must feel genuinely threatened or destabilized by the poem's vision of disordering, even as we are simultaneously reassured and convinced by its orderings (55 my italics)
But I'm not sure I agree with this statement: "...poets have a higher threshold for psychic disorder than the average population, just as professional dancers have higher pain thresholds" (57-58).
I think poets watch their mind and listen to it closely and try and tap into their emotions as honestly as they can. Or at least some poets. But this seems to me to be so close to saying poets are crazy and are comfortable with it. That just seems like such a cliché to me. But at the same time, I know when my mom died, and we had to go back to the house and talk about when to hold the funeral, I totally mentally just checked out. My sister even said to me, "You weren't there." But I also was able to translate this into a poem--this mental check-out that I had.
But I don't know now, maybe this is just confirming what he's saying.
***Reviewing/Rethinking this at four in the morning: maybe he's actually saying that poets can handle more challenging mental stuff and NOT go crazy. I like that idea much better.
What do you think? Do you agree with his statement?
The Major Subjects
Death is easier
than love. And true feeling, as someone said,
leaves no memory. Or else memory
replaces the past, which we know
never promised to be true.
Consider the sea cucumber:
when attacked it divides, sacrificing half
so that half
won't get eaten. Can the part left undevoured
figure out what to do?
The natural world is always instructive,
mysterious as well, but often
hard to praise. Love
is also difficult—the way it slides into
so many other subjects,
like murder, deceit,
and the moon. As my mother used to say
we couldn't find: If it had been
a snake it would have bitten you.
Fellow poets, we must
learn again to copy from nature,
see for ourselves
how steadfastly even its beauty
refuses to care or console.