Essensiële elemente van die digkuns

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer, digter van Company of Moths, is een van Amerika se meer prominente digters en pas het Sarah Rosenthal ‘n onderhoud met hom gevoer vir die Akademie vir Amerikaanse digkuns se amptelike webtuiste, In dié onderhoud het Palmer ‘n hele klomp pertinente en insiggewende opmerkings oor die aard van die digkuns gemaak wat myns insiens verdien om belig te word.

Volgens Rosenthal is Palmer deurgaans besig om die grense en gepaardgaande reikwydte van taal met sy digkuns te beproef. Hierop het Palmer soos volg reageer: “That has to be negotiated too. Poetry is a perverse thing in that it gestures both towards the world and toward a self which also, in a sense, is the world. At times it wants to bring the world impossibly close, and at other times it wants the world to go away so you can do some thinking […] Poetry, even if it is involved in a certain kind of dialectical negativity in relation to things as they are, still calls to people and things, even as it acknowledges the space in between. It’s a critical and productive relationship, an endless traversal.”

Nog ‘n interessante reaksie was op die vraag oor die politiese geaardheid van baie van Palmer se verse: “I’m not a political poet, in the sense that let’s say Amiri Baraka or Adrienne Rich are, or Allen Ginsberg was. Their poetry is instrumentalist by design; it’s meant to incite direct action. I suppose I’m in the polis and in relation to the polis in a different, if often sympathetic, way. And that illustrates the necessary range of voices, as Wallace Stevens said, between inside and outside, between a poetry that incites to action and a poetry that incites to reflection. But that puts it far too simplistically, since reflection is necessary to responsible intervention. We’re speaking of active reflection, naturally, a form of unmasking, of bringing to light, beyond the means readily at hand, beyond habits of speech and thought.”

En, ten slotte, sy antwoord op die vraag oor improvisasie; iets wat hy met die Beat-digters in verband bring: “I think in the layering-which has become more intense over the years-what you’re trying to arrive at is not some proposition of the well-wrought turn, but rather, in fact, immediacy. But there are different ways of interpreting the word ‘immediacy.’ In Beat poetics, for example, immediacy is ‘first thought, best thought’; pure improvisation on the surface. For me, the improvisation is one that occurs at many, many levels, including the palimpsestic construction of the text and the listening-not just the speaking, but the listening. It’s oddly enough a process of arriving at something that’s more immediate than I’m gifted to give at the beginning. I think one of the problems of Beat poetics-whatever the virtues may be, such as spontaneity, etc., is that you are too prone, as with some aspects of free improvisation, to fall into certain habits of composition. So you get a sameness of composition which is not immediacy; it’s habit in the guise of immediacy. For me, paradoxically, to arrive at the now, the immediate, I have to swim in these strange channels, shifting currents.”

‘n Fassinerende onderhoud, inderdaad. En beslis die lees werd.

Vir jou leesplesier volg een van Michael Palmer se vroeëre verse onder aan vanoggend se Nuuswekker.


Sedert gister het daar twee nuwe bydraes bygekom. Marlies Taljard vertel van die transtekstualiteit wat sy by ‘n kerkie in Potchefstroom teëgekom het, terwyl Desmond Painter weer op sy blog groet tot volgende jaar Januarie.

Lekker lees en geniet die middel-van-die-week-dag.

Mooi bly.



As a Real House

(Sarah’s third song)


“I said darkling and you said sparkling”
The play-house appears before us

as a real house in the dark
filled with people cut out

of magazines and postcards
and called real people at the start

Why is the curtain partly drawn
and why does the stair turn

to the left as you climb
and the right going down

Here all day it’s midwinter night
and the musicians will continue to play

in the music room
and sleep will never come

This is lesson three
where the fiddler is made real

by the sounds she hears
pouring from her fingers


© 1987 Michael Palmer


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