Les Murray svarar klokt på två frågor som råkar vara extra viktiga för svensk poesi just nu:
Your poem ”On the Borders” includes the observation that ”Too much /of poetry is criticism now.” What do you mean by this?
It’s true, isn’t it? Too much of poetry is written in the same Literary Studies sociolect that criticism is written in, and out of concerns that come from criticism. It’s secondary and has yielded primacy to criticism. It follows that the intellectuals, once they tire of shamanism, dismiss us altogether and have their spiritual adventures in their own idiom.
You have said that a thought is the worst thing to try to write a poem with.
Yes, an idea is the worst thing to start building a poem from. By that I mean a formed idea that you’ve already worked out in advance of starting the—though I gather Yeats always worked this way, from a prose epitome, which he’d then deepen to a music. We have three minds, I reckon, one of which is the body, while the other two are forms of mentation: daylight consciousness and dreaming consciousness. If one of these is absent from a work, it isn’t complete; and if one or two of them are suppressed, kept out of sight, then the whole thing—whatever it is you’ve created—is in bad faith. Thinking in a fusion of our three minds is how humans do naturally think, at any level above the trivial. The questions to ask of any creation are: What’s the dream dimension in this? How good is the forebrain thinking, but also how good is the dream here? Where’s the dance in it, and how good is that? How well integrated are all three; or if there is dissonance, is that productive? And, finally, what larger poem is this one in? Who or what does it honor? Who does it want to kill?
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