In one of my previous posts, about my life list of creative things that I wanted to do, one of the things that I mentioned was exploring poetry. Well, I’ve started on that one at least a little more today.
This evening, Tulane hosted Robert Hass, a well-known poet, as part of their Poet Laureate Series. I made Drew come with me and we went and listened to the poetry reading. Poetry is something that I was really only introduced to last semester in my creative writing class and since then I’ve been very intrigued by it. I was very inspired by listening to the poems that Hass read, by the things he wrote about, the way they sounded, the interesting things he paired together and just the way that everything flows together in poetry.
When describing poetry, he said, in poetry “all you want to do is catch a living moment.” I’m not sure if those were his words or if he was quoting someone else, but either way, I like the statement. He also said, concerning what poetry does is “makes rock, rock and grass, grass by freeing us from the autonomy of perception.” Again I don’t know if those were his words or a quote from someone else.
He read a very interesting poem about consciousness. He said a good exercise is to try to locate the first moment of consciousness that you remember and write about it. For some reason, I automatically thought about what you see first when you wake up in the mornings, but I don’t know if that is solely what he meant, considering Drew took it as the first thing that you could remember ever. The poem Hass wrote seemed to have images from different times, so it seems like you could try the exercise either way. I think I might try writing about this.
He also read his poem entitled, “State of the Planet.” I thought it was very interesting, the things that he mentioned, considering there are a million ways you could write about the state of the planet. The imagery was exceptional and I liked the way he combined different things.
About his writing process, he said that he recommended to others to write a little everyday. He said that “if you only work when inspired, it would all be like dictation from angels and you would have no work properly speaking.” This I do believe was a quote from someone else, but I was writing so fast to jot it down and I didn’t catch the name of who originally said it. He said that he tells himself to write at least 2 minutes everyday. Sometimes he writes only that, but if he tells himself that he only has to set aside two minutes it gets him writing and many times he writes for longer. He also quoted, “you can’t revise nothing.” So if you don’t have any writing done, you can’t revise it and make it better. So you have to start somewhere.
He said to work on the edge of what you know and understand. He also described the writing process as the same with any art (he referenced painting, which I’ve been doing today too, so I appreciated that) and that as far as ideas or images, you are “finding your way towards something that you don’t know, but you’ll know when you get there.”
His most recent book, The Apple Trees at Olema: Selected Poems & Essays, 1985-2009 is definitely going to be added to my list of books to read soon.