Language Poetry Unveiling

In my continual expansion of poetic fortitude I have immensely been caught up in the intrigues of poetic wonders and its incredible exertions. I read poetry in all its forms from the petrarchan sonnets to mangled free verse of contemporary writers because I love the power of words. I understand the feeling that words create and the immediacy that is fought as the final and the institutional aspect of poetry. Yet I hold that poetry should be understood from its central atom of speech that explodes in the poet’s voice box which in turn gives the poet a voice to speak as concisely as is seen in his/her works.

My explosive predecessors of Language Poetry based it on the flimsy aspect of the reader interacting with the poet’s work rather than a quick steamy session with traditional poetic techniques in their form of simplicity which borders on acute laziness and a need for spoon feeding on the reader. The grandeur effect of language poetry is that it dictates meaning rather than meaning dictating language or bits of it. The poet Lyn Hejinian’s book of essays, The Language of Inquiry explicitly sets the pace in this ethereal and monumental place of language. She posits that “language is nothing; meanings are nothing but a flow of contexts. Such contexts rarely coalesce into images, rarely come to terms. They are transitions, transmutations, the endless radiating of detonation into relation. One question is therefore imminent in this instance, why are syndoche or medial caesura not immediate realizations if one is interested in poetry? Language?

I began writing poetry just under two years and it wasn’t until after one and a half years that I was able to write something that I have ever been proud of. I daily communed on poetic forms, structures, rules and treatises to gravitate me in the rather intriguing but mind boggling world of poetry. It however remains an attempt on my part as poetry is a continual process that tends to find its own path and that is what I advocate for. Therefore, language not only herded me in the paths set by poetry but also showers light upon the same paths. Poetry then helped me want to be alive while language served as the firmament, the threads to seek life.

A quick scan at language poetry will reveal not only the mathematical aspect of poetry but also the scientific computation of the same. It’s usually alienable as readers may be inclined to seek prophetic and romantic nature of poetry but the thought that it invites unconventional association to fragments of poetry. An example of is the Fibonacci sequence that exists in language poetry:
my days
if lion brand fun fur
will make a pair of nice undies
The above example suggests my argument that simplicity is a core aspect but also that an inclination to the beauty of language progression tends to familiarize the reader with beauty of construction and composition and NOT necessarily word augmentation. Not only does that the above poem satiate the hunger that people have for poetry but also it guides them to synthetic use of mathematics in solving issues. People are generally attracted to art but because of the readily and easily available phenomenon that punctuates our everyday life, what they find are bad poetry, stupid language use, nonexistent syllogistic antennas and phoney accents developed from a disregard of the purity of language. Human language has the properties of productivity, repetition and displacement. Any poet worth his/her salt should then adopt the fruity language disposition that advances poetry and I pose that to be – productivity.
Some may argue that language poetry is difficult or tiring but a simple knitting of words predisposes a situation whereby language is seen as an actor in the creation of poetry and not something that is acted upon to perpetuate a need of hopelessness. In an article for the Nation, the essayist Hank Lazer described language poetry as “language writing that can be seen as an opposition to literary practice that questions many of the assumptions of mainstream poetry. Instead of considering poetry as a staging ground for the creation and expression of an ‘authentic voice’ and personality, language arises out of an ‘exploded self.’ Blurs genre boundaries and seeks actively collaboratively relationships between the reader and the writer.” I cannot stress enough the importance of experimentation because through that, language gains, grows and ales and when that happens the taste of poetry then becomes fine and mature and sweet to partake in.
The orthodoxies of poetry as seen in various writings not only pursue convergent stratas but reek in absoluteness of a tendency to keep folding the wind in an incessant effort to confirm readers’ prejudices and general views. The challenge then is for poets to practice divergent stratas in the unearthing the gems of poetic ore and it largely lies on language. Art shouldn’t be only understood as feeling generator and an empathy tool but also a means to learning, a provoking vessel to nourish the mind. Simple lexical words that are immediately available in myriad of dictionaries and are alluded to in metaphorical and symbolist modes shouldn’t alarm a reader but intrigue him/her to seek meaning and help the poet communicate. Examples of language poetry are numerous in the internet and books published since circa 1970 but having had its spiritual inspiration from forefathers as Ezra Pound, Lacan and Barthes.

The garden
Oleander: coral
From lipstick ads in the 50’s
Fruit of the tree of such knowledge
To smack thin air
Meaning kiss or hit.
It appears
In the guise of outworn usages
Because we are bad?
Big masculine threat,
Insinuating and slangy.”
(Rae Armantrout)

A deep scrutiny of the above piece reveals the story of the fall of man from the Garden of Eden and the tragedies that followed right after that or the destruction of a certain element of forbearance . Doesn’t it feel good to crack a poem, to maneuver in the poet’s mind and hit the spot of exhilaration of word seduction in your individual understanding?

To paraphrase the poet Ron Silliman form is passion and passion is form, language then is the fuel for expression. Poetry rejects authority of the writer over the reader and thus, by analogy the authority implicit in other hierarchies (social, economic, cultural) rather it invites participation by the reader, to further paraphrase Hejinian in her Rejection of Closure.
I appeal to the mind, heart and soul to indulge in the complexities of art since if we form poetry and shun the seductive aspect of vocabulary then we loose the chance to advance knowledge and also the fleeting feeling one may have missed. Language poetry is an evolving concept just like human language so time will judge but it’s undisputable on its importance. John Dewey advocated for experimentation and experience in his school of pragmatism which I occasionally borrow from even in writing and from this phenomenological aspect – Trying is Germane.

Experiment, Learn and Share.


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