“Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”

Remember the Faulkner saying I quoted some days ago: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings”… Here is an interesting continuation:

From his 1957 book After Lorca onward, the American poet Jack Spicer (1925-65) wrote what he described as “dictated” poetry. For Spicer, the poet acts as a receptive host for language, rather than as an agent of self-expression. In his 1965 Vancouver Lectures, Spicer illustrated this process by claiming he received his poetry from “Martian” sources, from the dead, and by likening the poet to a radio receiving transmissions. As Peter Gizzi states in his introduction to The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer, “[The] game between the material and invisible worlds places the poet in the embarrassing position of merely following orders from the beyond. But, Spicer reassures his young audience, the best condition for the poem is one of not-knowing, and the poet has a better chance of that with dictation than with self-expression. The better the poem, the less responsible the poet is for it. So Spicer wages battle with the creative ego in terms that remain provocative in an age still searching for poetic authenticity and identity.”

What challenging & stimulating thoughts! In Spicer’s world it is not even enough to kill your darlings, which we all know is pretty heartbreaking, one must actually let go of the ego altogether –

– rather zen …  wouldn’t you agree?

I must hasten to add that I discovered the works of Jack Spicer via Maureen’s beautiful blog.

Finally; here is a great poem by Jack Spicer

“Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”

Any fool can get into an ocean   

But it takes a Goddess   

To get out of one.

What’s true of oceans is true, of course,

Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming   

Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed

You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess

To get back out of them

Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly

Out in the middle of the poem

They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the

    water hardly moves

You might get out through all the waves and rocks

Into the middle of the poem to touch them

But when you’ve tried the blessed water long

Enough to want to start backward

That’s when the fun starts

Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural

You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown

Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth

But it takes a hero to get out of one

What’s true of labyrinths is true of course

Of love and memory. When you start remembering.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. KM Huber says:

    Suitable for framing, Sigrun, but that would be an attachment, a bow to ego, perhaps. Thanks so much for the introduction to Spicer’s work and Maureen’s blog.


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