There is the anecdote of the painter Edgar Degas, observing to Mallarmé that, ‘yours is a hellish craft. I can’t manage to say what I want, and yet I’m full of ideas.’ To which Mallarmé allegedly, allegedly, replied, ‘My dear Degas, one does not make poetry with ideas, but with words.’
Poems are not ideas. Poems are not prose. Poems are not mini ‘what-is-it-abouts.’ Poems are not to be answered. Poetry is not code; a poem is not a metaphor for what it is r e a l l y (really?) trying to say. As Arthur Rimbaud said when asked what his work was about, ‘It means exactly what I’ve said, literally and completely, in all respects.’ A poem is, as Rimbaud predicted, itself and itself alone.
In this master class will discuss the theoretical aspects of our work. We will (re)visit texts by Lyn Heijinian, Kenneth Frampton, Louis Kahn, and others, and observe how an elasticated syntax has served the poems of Etel Adnan, John Berryman, Ernst Jandl, Anne Vegter, Valerie Rouzeau, and others.
There will be a various writing prompts and exercises to complete at home, before reconvening for a Zoom-based workshop in part 2 to discuss and develop our new poems.
In this course, we will not concern ourselves with what we write about. About = out. We will consider the relationship between form and raw material, and the poem as a work of art. How can we extend the possibilities of language without creating fragmentary rubble: what is its matter. We will assume that the experimental is not to be difficult, uninteresting to the reader, nor elitist or alienating but instead a—
Poetry & Syntax: An Emergency Toothpick in an Imaginary Landscape with Astrid Alben will run on Saturday, 13 March, 10:30-1 pm & Saturday, 27 March, 2 – 4:30 pm. Join the waiting list by e-mailing [email protected]
Image Credit: Noosha Ghodsizad