I feel like that about some of the Calamities; maybe I should be taking more chances with the form...I find it very hard not to write a poem that has perfect, English-teacher-gold-star grammar. Non-grammatical sentences, weird inversions, the sudden appearance of bizarre words, quotations, apparently extraneous and random material doesn't bug me in other people's work (at least, in small doses), but I can't seem to generate it in my own. My brain has to be tricked into producing weirdness on a formal level. I can invent stories with weird particulars all you please, but I must tell them in an orthodox manner, from beginning to end, cutting out irrelevance, and using complete sentences.
Or the English weasels will come. And they will choke me to death on periods, and hook commas into my eyes. Or something. I think this means it's time for drastic measures...such as translating poems out of languages I don't actually know!
Here's an example. I found, online, translations of some of Sylvia Plath's poetry into Portuguese. I translated one, "Mushrooms," back out of Portuguese into English. I'd never read the English before, and didn't look at it here. Trouble is, I don't know Portuguese. I know Spanish, which means I know just enough Portuguese to completely screw it up. I don't think I've done much to let go of syntax here; I'm still writing in sentences, but I have a narrative that holds together much more loosely than my usual.
Manning the night with
Branches, with bravery,
in absolute silence.
From artery to nose-tip
We are bundled in silver
And the scent of aquisition.
No one warns us
Detains us, rips into us.
We evade those worries
With smooth fists, insist
On brandishing absences
The deep recesses
Tied to our sandals,
Our hammers, our shakers.
We ring out, forgotten,
From the voice of loyalty
Declaring, as girls do,
"This shadow binds our knuckles." We
Live on a drop of water
In flea-bites of darkness;
Only affidavits from the fashionable
Keep questioning our little nothing.
They'll have all of us!
They'll have us all!
Though we are leftovers, though we are
tableland, humid and low --
we are as we are
With trunks and branches
Dragged under our bodies.
We are a species of growth,
Manhandled skins we have
Herded all over this planet.
And the door that leads inside it is ours.
Fuck! Is my feeling of outsiderness then the strongest sign that I have become a true and real poet? Jesus Christ, no wonder we all end up killing ourselves. This is a mental illness, people. And we revel in our sickness.
You realize, though, that even as I write this, I'm pondering revisions on a poem I wrote yesterday? Oh verily, I say, I am one of you.
I need to get some submissions out. And work on a sonnet. Rhyme and meter 4-EVA! I don't mean that. Ok, yes I do.
Jo Ann read sestinas; long-lined ones, I guess, as the repetitions of words seemed to come few and far between. The ones she read were, I gathered, mostly about the death of her mother. She also read from a new long poem called "John's America."
Kathleen read from a poem about being among Italians at Easter, which has been published as a chapbook, lyric poems that form part of a larger new prose piece she is working on, and work from her new book, "Discrete Categories Forced Into Coupling." I distinctly recall her talking about the blue lines in a notebook forming "continous blue horizons below which I can sink, above which I can rise." I think I remember them because I work out of a blue-lined notebook. I spend a lot of time writing sideways, against the lines, though.
Hardly bravery and glory. Thinking harder, the only two poems I could think of that even wavered in that direction were "In Flanders Fields" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and even they're hardly, "Hurrah, hurrah, and an artillery round"-type fare. They're more about doing your duty than revelling in the bloodshed.
Maybe the writer was thinking of the Illiad?