DEADLY POISON


...Poetry of the kind that has been discovered by a growing number of modern writers, the poetry of self which surpasses fiction and revolutionizes it....you do not so much perceive relationships as experience them....I am eternally grateful for being forced to be a poet...without that method of escape from self I would never have known that there was another world...my respect for the act of creativity grew. -Karl Shapiro, To Abolish Children and Other Essays, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1968, p.237, p.267 and p.271.


Poetry should be zany. Not only should it frolic, as Camus says, it should cavort, stumble, trip, fall flat on its face, get up, slither, fly, soar, dazzle, gloom, lash out and all those other things we do in life. -With thanks to Karl Shapiro, To Abolish Children and Other Essays, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1968, p.79.


That fatal tendency to sulk and melancholy,
pomposity, dreariness in these and past days
of often indestinguishable poetry and prose,
in which the world is in flight from values,
fight over values and nearly anarchic chaos
and anyone, artist, public person,
gets evaluated by the pawnbroker
as near-saint, failed saint, Shylock,
minor or major: the curator’s got
his number, his place, the goose
and the golden egg....

this fatal tendency is slowly coming
to compete with a life-sized poetry,
a real people-in-situ, right there, here,
it, out there, looking at it, getting inside it,
around it, in as many dimensions as one can,
‘cause we’re all in it now and where you are
affects how it is and what we call truth.
The very syllables and sounds,
the very air we breath,
the highest sensitivity to speech,
its crystal waters and its frightening,
deadly poison.

The great burgeoning of everything,
every art, every science:
to be able to digest, capture some part
of it all, life, with profundity,
pervasively, without prolixity,
flavoured with the sacred,
to give pleasure,
is no mean task as one putters around,
pastime, fulltime, we’re just talking
‘coterie’ here-- not everyone clutches poetry
to their hearts-- unless one defines it broadly:
and we do, we do!

Ron Price
12 October 1995