Wednesday, April 05, 2006

On Being "Too Formulaic"

I think I know what Jordan is talking about here. My gut says the same.


Daniel said...

Do you think writing poetry and teaching poetry require different uses of formula?

If one were to hold to a poetics that could not advocate "insight" as a legitimate end, could student "insight" be a pedagogical goal?

Thomas said...

It takes "insight" (in the sense that Jordan is probably intending) to write a poem, even if you don't want your poems to convey that insight, or any other insight (in a sense Jordan probably is not after).

So I think my answer (just off the top of my head, mind you) is yes, if your two uses of "insight" don't mean the same thing.

I suppose I'm saying insight might be a legitimate means to poetry but not end of it. Since pedagogy is supposed to impart means, not ends, there would be no contradiction.

Jordan takes the product as evidence for the successful transferance of means. And I think this also suggests that formula are best for teaching and, perhaps, theorizing poetry, but are probably less suitable for writing it.

But I'm not going to assert that categorically.

Daniel said...

Maybe I could modify my original question to refer to writing poetry and teaching someone to write poetry. In this case, is a particular kind of poetics implied? Does the teacher who gets some sort of feeling of fulfillment from seeing a student gain insight at least implicitly advocate a poetics that must admit insight as one legitimate end of teaching writing and of that which is taught, the act of writing.

I'm wondering what Jordan's experience says about poetry. If certain formula are likely to produce the mild to major epiphanies that traditional verse values and if students enjoy this experience, is there anywhere for them to go next? From what theoretical ground could an avant poetics affirm the student's pleasure in poetry that progresses towards little epiphanies and closure?

I understand that Jordan's experience may come more out of the nice image or strange word choice here or there instead of the closure I've mentioned, but my hunch is that the latter would give many students pleasure as writers.