Thought for the Day
There is a fine essay by C.K. Williams in the July / August 2007 American Poetry Review. In "A Letter to a Workshop," Williams is concerned with "not so much how one goes about the creation of poems, but rather what, when you're trying to write a poem, do you think with, and how?" It's the sort of writing that poets should read again and again.
It is smart and hopeful writing.
Along with the right not to concentrate goes a corollary: the right to vacilate, to wobble, to shilly-shally, be indecisive in one's labors, and still not suffer from a sense of being irresponsible, indolent, or weak. Poems can take a long time to arrive, and to find their final form, so surely patience is the word here, but it's worth emphasizing that what actually happens doesn't seem to have the maturity and dignity the term patience implies. There's much more flailing about, and hesitating, and clearing the throat, and taking out the trash: we have the right to all of this. At the same time there is the obligation that comes with this circling towards patience, which is to know at some point you have to make your move, even if you don't feel completely ready, and you have to make it with energy and tenacity and––this might be the hardest––spontaneity. It might be asked how spontaneity can be willed? But isn't that one of the basic issues of art, of being an artist? Isn't that what revision is all about? Trying a thing again and again until the solution finally arrives that surprises and embodies that quality of surprise in itself?