Writers who become mired in thinking and finally writing about their own composing processes are , in my view, spinning their wheels in the said murk and are perhaps denying the presence of that lurking suspicion that they've written all there is for them to write. So they keep busy, fuss about with their technique, advance or contract their formula, and find themselves alone in the messy living room of a mind thinking about writing and worse, writing about writing, about how hard it is to write a poem, to get it right.
Eamon Grennan's "Watch" is that sort of poem, a prose confession disguised with line breaks, a practice run that is composed more to limber up stiff muscles and assure the poet that the world flow is still there. The flow is in this poem, as Grennan is a choice phrase maker, but the phrase making here isn't in service of what's seen in the evolving garden. Grennan writes here as though he cannot talk about the garden unless he has his stamp on it, and so load the poem with the details of his material exitence.
Watching it closely, respecting its mystery,
is the note you've pinned above this heavy Dutch table
that takes the light weight of what you work at,
coaxing the seen and any mystery it might secrete
into words that mightn't fall too far short,..
The need to establish that he's at his desk watching his garden as he tries to write his poem about his inability to distill the essence of his ephemeral perception sufficiently in words begins the enterprise on a false and throat clearing note, the sort of harrumphing we note in blustering cartoon buffoons who haven't a real thought under their verbal exteriors. The poem isn't about the garden and the changes it undergoes in just a few daylight hours, and not even about Grennan having an experience; it reads more like it's about a poet trying to have an experience. Indeed, there is a the feeling of steroidal, vein-popping strain here, and there's even a bit of what one would call Sports Babble, the talent of sports commentators to prate continuously with statistics and incidental aracana while the game is being played.
Such matters can be dealt with in interesting ways if the writer is willing to accept a new sort of rigor and retire the centering "I" .He might then avoid the boredom of trying to revitalize old tropes and instead develop a style, tone and aesthetic method that can make the confounding multifacetness of subject/object split and the limits of narrative givens to break through the third wall and be in the presence of the world known only by God; Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, Leslie Scalapino, Jack Spicer, Ron Silliman and Rae Armentrout , among many others, have succeded in taming the self-conciousness that infects many a poet having difficulty with the final inadequecy of their poems to be more than figurations and writing interesting , frequently brilliant and bracing poems as a result. There goal among these poets, generalizing perhaps a yard or two too wide , has been to transcend the ego that thinks it's having an experience and and to bring to the craft some relevant rhetorical ideas that can help the writer actually accomplish what Grennan only flirts with here, to evoke, not define a world beyond the control of the speaking, writing voice.