Spreading difference

These days, especially it seems, reviewers, panels/judges, constructors of ‘canons’, etc, seem to want a singular style or approach, a kind of unified body of poetry at least for each book if not overall, something they can theorise about or judge or slot-in easily.

In other words, there has to be a focus, a centre, if you will. A poet is not allowed to wander where she/they will or may, not always constrained by the ‘signs’ of category. OK, ‘allowed’ to do so but as a consequence not taken seriously, or neglected, because she/they can’t be pinned down.

I’m aware of that working in my own case – it’s been said to me more than once – and I suspect it is so for others. I take my work seriously (and sometimes not so seriously, because you just have to let all that go as well). As Gertrude Stein once wrote in Tender Buttons: “Act so there is no use in a center.”. Forms, procedures, styles or themes don’t need to be centralised, rounded-up.

If I approach composition as making, folded into that making will be different times, different weather, different light, different positions, different states of waking and dreaming. Even if such making takes place at the same desk, in the same chair, or during the same journey, each time it happens is always different.

As Stein also says in her lecture “Portraits and Repetition,”: ‘… there can be no repetition because the essence is insistence, and if you insist you must each time use emphasis and if you use emphasis it is not possible while anybody is alive that they should use exactly the same emphasis’.

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