Friday, 14 May 2021

Geoffrey D. Morrison : part three

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

I think poetry is on a spectrum with other forms rather than completely separate from them. I think certain forms “aspire to the condition of poetry,” to crib from Walter Pater, and that some do so more ardently than others. And I don’t always think poetry’s near cousins are the ones we would necessarily assume. So for instance I think one such near cousin is the visual aspect of film – much more so than the dialogue in film, even if the script is self-consciously “poetic.” I especially mean the rhythm of cuts and the selection of shots; they have a scansion as poems do, they imply the movement and the juxtaposition of emotions and ideas in a special way.    

So by this reasoning Orson Welles’ hallucinogenic film-essay F for Fake is more like a poem to me than his Chimes at Midnight, even though the latter is an adaptation of Shakespeare and so by default features poetry. I don’t totally know if I believe this. I’m trying it out. 

I think Dziga Vertov’s early Soviet film experiments are poetry. I think anything paratactical is in the extended poetry family. This means nearly all lyric-forward music, collage, found footage, assemblage in sculpture, and all old folk tales and myths and stories with weird logics and sudden transformations.

Parataxis, defined broadly to include montage and so on, seems really crucial to what poetry is to me – the ability to jump from idea to idea, image to image, feeling to feeling, without necessarily requiring some sort of overbearing connective tissue. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Verlaine didn’t want to write about the count walking into the room! It’s a transition from one scene to the next, a connector. He would rather show the count swimming, the count watching lightning strike a church, the count drinking vodka with his grandmother, and leave aside how he got from one to the other. 

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