Poïesis as making
- A work of art is not a piece of fruit lifted from a branch: it is a ripening collaboration of artist, receiver, and world.
- A poem is not the outer event or phenomenon it ostensibly describes, nor is it the feeling or insight it may seem to reveal or evoke. A poem may involve both, but is, more complexly, a living fabrication of new comprehension – “fabrication” meaning, not accidentally, both lie, falsehood, and more simply and fundamentally, anything created and made: the bringing of something freshly into being.
- Poems lean toward increase of meaning, feeling, and being.
- The writing of poems must be counted as much a contemplative practice as a communicative one.
- The desire of monks and mystics is not unlike that of artists: to perceive the extraordinary by changing not the world, but the eyes that look.
Q: What is the most important thing to do when reading a poem?
Jane Hirshfield: Listen, without worrying too quickly about whether you understand or not. Give yourself over to a poem the way you give yourself over to your own night dreaming, or to a beloved’s tales of the day. And then, try to listen first to a poem the way you might listen to a piece of music — the meaning of music isn’t some note by note analysis or paraphrase, it’s to find yourself moved.
Q: How does reading poetry change us as people?
Jane Hirshfield: It makes us more permeable, more compassionate, more rigorous, and, in needed ways, smarter. I mean that in the broadest sense: more awake and alert to subtlety and connection, more open to new feelings and new understandings. Empathy with not only people but ants and trees and mountains; sound-work’s lattice, on which surprises of thought can climb; developing the capacity for abiding in the complex and multiple and open — all these things make us smarter.
I don’t, though, want to put forward some idea of poems as primarily useful. Or at least, let me say this: one way poems may be useful is by showing how thin usefulness is.
Good poems restore amazement
A world of relative inaccessibility Aesthetics AM art criticism art writing Jane Hirshfield Poetry uses of art aesthetic theory aesthetics american poetry Jane Hirshfield poetics poetry Ten Windows uses of art
sketcher, reader, writer