Showing posts with label Karl Kirchwey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karl Kirchwey. Show all posts

Thursday, July 8, 2010

School of Defeatitude

"Wissahickon Schist" by Karl Kirchwey is a poem that practically brags about it's failure as a poem. The brutal upshot is that the poet is not able to complete his self assigned task of bearing unaffected witness to a natural situation.The poet ponders the nature of nature and starts to write a line to crystallize his emerging perception and then stops, catching himself in the act of attempted epiphany, realizing at some point that for all the skills with words he's attained in many years of reading , they alone cannot avail him the unattainable essence of things before.So he stops writing, stares at the formations around him, the birds in their habitats, the plants and their reactions to the changing weather and realizes what it is he is missing. And later, turning himself into a second person "you", writes a poem about being overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the nature he was trying to make even more extraordinary.

Ergo, another poem about poetry, or worse, a poem about being not being able to write a poem; this is a poem about the writer's impotence to get to the heart of the things that make up his world, those things no human , motivated by imagination and the imperatives of free will, had a hand in designing, constructing, arranging in situ. The imagination is reserved, finally, for creating a mythology for how all these things arrived in the states and ethereal essences that are their allure--the narratives of what is already visible, complete, and unto themselves. Myths, poems, epic dramas used to be the way we explained to ourselves the formations, disruptions, and inevitable continuity of the world, that a creation of metaphorical structures could link us to a grand design greater than ourselves; our task was to abide by the revealed law of the poetically evoked and make our place within the narration.

Science , though, has hollowed out the myth, made the metaphors mechanical, reduced mystery to the level of the lost cell phone we will eventually find if we look hard enough. We know the connections between natural phenomenon, we realize the power of metaphor exists only in the arenas where the concrete facts and their theories are unknown, unimagined. So the metaphors are empty and the poet realizes he has no power to contain even the contents of his perception, and he stops writing and seeks rather to vanish back into the library to lick his wounds with another poem that confirms the sheer futility of being a poet in the first place. This poem is a stinker, a dishonest, whining stinker.