That if it weren’t for the poems lifting you up

Rosebud Ben-Oni’s recent column in Kenyon Review uses the idea of a “conscious poem” — a poem that knows it exists to ask questions about how poetry comes into existence at all. When is a poem a poem? When you finish writing the last line, the first draft, the first word, the thought, the feeling of the thought, the moment in reality that makes you want to write the poem. You could already be living in a poem and not know it.
 
 And then, as always, off into string and field theory so we can consider how language can be like a universal force in the same way gravity is. I like the way that this comes out because it starts with a scattering of ideas and “aren’t we all dust” but quickly moves towards a creator myth. Imagine the aliens know exactly what they are doing, we’re asked.
 
 And this is reflected again in the anaesthetist — who she asks what it’s like to share time with someone losing it. She writes about her hunger for more time, the “remember to bring me back” going through her head, and these all seem a little like prayers.

“That if it weren’t for the poems lifting you up, would each year obscure the sky a bit more until you’ve forgotten it was there to begin with?”


As I Have Accidentally Put Two Hands Up by Heikki Huotari in Third Point has some powerful turns of phrase, such as his “bones button on the wrong side” suggesting wrongly-conforming at a fundamental level.


Reading again, you could take the title to be the raising of hands at the request of the police. The supplication gesture of the palms, and not just the raising of hands to answer the question dually. The teachers call, demand the answer and this I suppose is the same play with authority.
 
 The presented idea here is — there are two ways he can answer the question, or that in answer in both ways he is showing the truth of himself.


Now I’m Bologna by José Olivarez is littered with lines like “people are overrated. give me avocados” and “It’s not so bad being a person” while navigating a discussion of Italian heritage, and how we make who we are. Bologna, the place, is the pun here; he is where he is from as well as what he does and what his parents do.


This is a finding the self through where you’re from kind of poem — which in this case the poet looks at how their experience is one that is seen in terms of the economic value they bring the place they immigrate to. This is the life of their parents, to work in car factories, to dream of a better life within the one they have — to be Lamborghinis. This is a dream that fits their identity, which is then changed by their son who works in a sausage factory. This play of who holds the car keys on a shared identity between generations is one that is deeply aware of the external view.


Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own, I am looking forward to a long sleep. It was written by @CJEggett with well-meaning hands. I am sorry it’s late, you can blame Sammy as she took me out to dinner. A secret painting. Very good twitter thread about poems which might teach care. I care for every one of you in verse and in prose.

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