Friday, 25 September 2015

Altered Reality

Michael Crummey discusses his early days, mainlining poetry:
It was an altered reality I was experiencing, I guess, unaided by pharmaceuticals. I was stoned on images and poems that managed to mean without surrendering easily to explanation. The two lines of Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” never failed to give me a little jolt, though I couldn’t parse why something so slender managed to suggest so much depth. There was an ocean below that simple surface where critters I couldn’t name were at work. I felt them moving down there.

Even in a poem as clean and cutting as Irving Layton’s elegy for his mother—“and her youngest sings/While all the rivers of her red veins move into the sea”—I felt myself lifted out of the bare facts, or pushed beneath them, to something subtler, more nuanced, closer to the real. In the poems I fell in love with, some truth the world itself only hinted at came, nearly, into focus.

Looking back, I think I was too green to have more than an inkling of what I was reading. But that intimation—naive, inarticulate, confounding—approached the mystical. And I’m still after that as a reader, the place where meaning shimmers like a heat-haze over the world’s everyday presence; seeming, at once, to rise from the details of our lives and to exist beyond them; to almost and nearly say who we are, and why. Which seems to be as much as the world is willing to offer by way of explanation.

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