Friday, November 20, 2009

Madness and Pretty Poetry

A few months ago, I posted a poem entitled "Pretty Poetry," which is my rejection of formal, academic poetry.

Several weeks after that posting, I was having a discussion with my poet friend, SarahA O'Leary, about writing under the spell of inspiration versus writing poetry in a concrete, academic way, in the way we studied poetry and read poetry. We both conceded that we were unimpressed with our pretty poetry, with our conscious poetry making; instead, we both like the poetry that comes from a certain madness, a fever of the brain that overwhelms us.

Recently, I was re-reading Plato's Phaedrus and I discovered this passage, which seems (aikos) to sum it up: "If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses' madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds." (245 a)