Monday, August 27, 2012

poems like a table

"My poems (in the beginning) are like a table on which one places interesting things one has found on one's walks: a pebble, a rusty nail, a strangely shaped root, the corner of a torn photograph, etc....where after months of looking at them and thinking about them daily, certain surprising relationships, which hint at meanings, begin to appear..."

~ Charles Simic from Notes on Poetry and Philosophy

It's exactly like that, the trick being that you have to leave those things, those moments, those ideas, on the table for months, sometimes years, collecting dust.  It's no wonder that poets have so often written about still life in art.

I was gifted with this gorgeous loaf of homemade bread by a lovely co-worker of mine.  The cherries are from our tree, which we made into a refrigerator jam.  A delicious combination.

It's the last week of summer holidays - school begins again for C. after the long weekend, next Tuesday.  So this week will be spent crossing the mundane things off the list, so that on Tuesday, I can begin with the next writing project in earnest.

Which reminds me of this 2005 interview on The Believer between Paul Auster and Jonathan Lethem.  You can read the full interview here.  But this was the part that particularly struck me:

PA: You try to surprise yourself. You want to go against what you’ve done before. You want to burn up and destroy all your previous work; you want to reinvent yourself with every project. Once you fall into habits, I think, you’re dead as an artist. You have to challenge yourself and never rest on your laurels, never think about what you’ve done in the past. Just say, that’s done, now I’m tackling something else. It’s certain that the world’s large enough and interesting enough to take a different approach each time you sit down to write about it.
JL: Anyway, your voice is going to be helplessly your own. And so the books will be united despite your attempts to ignore your own earlier work.
PA: Exactly, because all your attempts to flee from yourself are useless. All you discover is yourself and your old obsessions. All the maniacal repetitions of how you think. But you try. And I think there’s some dignity in that attempt.
JL: I’m laughing, because now, as I’m about to begin a new novel at last, the only thing I’m certain of are the exclusions, the things I’ll refuse to do again. I’m avoiding Brooklyn. I’m going to avoid writing about parents and children. And I’d noticed that each book, as different as I thought they were, had mortal stakes attached. Someone was capable of pulling a gun on someone else. So I decided to restrict myself to emotional stakes.

And so this next week too, in the back of my mind, I'll be thinking about this new approach. The book I plan to write is a full length prose work - maybe it will have hints of tone from my essays, Calm Things.  Maybe not.  It's true though - at this stage, I only know for certain what I don't want it to be, what it mustn't contain.


  1. reading your posts are always food for my soul
    today i actually feel like coming over to your place and eat your food too...ha-ha...


  2. Oh that cherry red...... it's absolutely perfect and delicious. Your pix today were superb; the jam looks luscious. The last photo looks like a Robert Lemay painting. Outstanding!


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