Tuesday, July 14, 2020

On Writing #176 : Paul Perry

The Wrack Line
Paul Perry

I came to the end of the line

Then, I imagined a line in poetry called the wrack-line

The poems unhinged themselves

They fed other things …

Wrack line - the line of debris left on the beach by high tide

The high tide of the poem – the rhetorical consciousness of self-hood. The lyric I

The cul de sac of the first person

The debris – its linguistic release, the shed skin of parole. The what now, forget, this is what I meant to say, but did not say …

On beaches the wrack line is what the birds, turtles, crabs, shells and worms eat

Unhinge the poem, let it fly

Speaking it, reading, reciting, singing and performing does this

I read once that all language is metaphor

I believed that. On some days, (Sundays) I still do

I once wrote all poetry is performance – it still stands

I think of Maura Soshin O’Halloran

I use words of from her letters and diaries and make poems with them – sometimes I change very little

It’s a form of prayer / of care / of worship to the sanctity of life

Her sister contacted me. That’s beautiful, she said. That was a blessing

I once spoke with C.D. Wright in her office about poetry. I was a teenager. I asked her so many questions, that when I stopped, she said, well that’s a lot of questions, then she spoke to me about improvisation in poetry

Try not to be Seamus Heaney, she said. There already is a Seamus Heaney

After this, I wrote a poem which was small, and did not try to save the world

None of my poems need to sound like me

There is no me

I constantly misunderstand people. I imagine they do me too

Peter Bichsel’s Ein Tisch ist Ein Tisch has stayed with me for 40 years. The arbitrariness of language – vielleicht

Every poem is an elegy

How does one contain silence in poetry? This is a real question

People mean different things by poetry

Poetry is also about one’s relationship to the world vis a vis language, and silence

When I listen to music, I don’t wonder what it means

Poetry is a form of music

Leave meaning to the critics

I love for / look for the leaps between words, the magnetic aura of meaning they attract and repel … it’s a volatile game by which lives are made, saved, and endured … when I say meaning, I mean metaphor, and when I say metaphor, I mean something else

You get the drift ….

And this is the wrack-line … one of my first memories is of a harbour wall in Ballyconneely and hundreds of crabs crawling from their harbour walls

This was before the digital revolution

There is a poetry of before and after – I think we’re somewhere in between now, and if I close my eyes I can see on that beach the digital wrack-line - it’s made up of migrants and natives, and the noise sounds something like the waves breaking on that Connemara beach forty plus years ago

Paul Perry, June 23rd, 2020

Paul Perry is the author of 5 full length collections of poetry including Gunpowder Valentine: New and Selected Poems and the above/ground press chapbooks The Ghosts of Barnacullia (2019) and BLINDSIGHT (September, 2020). A recent recipient of the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship, he is also a novelist. He directs the creative Writing Programme at UCD in Dublin, Ireland.

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