Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Dirty Cleans

A few thoughts about Gabriel Gudding’s “A Defense of Poetry.” A blog-jot, really. I hope some part of it is coherent in the light of tomorrow.

Not just smashmouth (or pottymouth) poetics. He has imbued his words with an etymologist’s/linguist’s sense of the drama by which words through centuries of use acquire themselves, a nonlinear and profane smush and defence-vs.-smushing by drawing distinctions sharply and violently. An interpenetration of the meme’s seming and alimentary processes. Preservation means defense; to me certain poems (“Memoirs of the Backhoe”,”Richard Wilbur”) seem like words trying to avoid being ‘Finnegans Wake-ized’ by drawing as violent a (verbal, definitive, cartoonish) distinction between themselves and the word(s) they are drawing near to be potentially composed into a new word with. The vulnerability (such as it is) of “Adolescence” actually allows the metamorphosis to happen, once, just to let us see.

The point is, his poetry is relational and fused—sort of like Dante’s level of thieves but not so dire—but a sense that personality is separation, is a vital commodity, and anger, insult, scatology expressed is the momently-discrete formulation’s best chance at survival—is an etymologist’s structuration, in other words. Self-sustaining selves. It seems to me this is where he gains his tremendous verbal energy; an atomic (i.e., nuclear)-level reaction. Like and unlike Carl Philips, who goes to great distance in his syntax and composition to suggest articulations of intimacy and its crushing/killing power. How to maintain, how to continue: the concerns of body, of words and their language are the same: what to eliminate, what to consume.

Gudding delves into righteousness, for example, to eliminate, as is therefore fit, what he thinks is utter shit. And to live off what is extracted is vitality. An alimentary poetics. To say it in one, quoted, sentence: “I am the king of my potty.” One’s essence is defined by what one eliminates, whatever end, whatever means.

Oh, and just in case: Disclaimer: I HAVE TOO read the book. I love it. It’s a bruiser.

& that the above is a strain through to understand (so to speak), not a definitive.

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