The Swerve of Poetry Matures

Poetry is a listening for the swerve of potent-being through the falling atoms of words. A trust is at play which says: the swerve can only, at least at first, be approximated by the given words or lexicon, by the extant set of thought-idea-images. To trust the swerve is to listen past what the words seem to mean and say, trusting that underneath the approximation lies the meaningfulness of a swerve into the not-yet-sayable.

A sayable emerges from the trusting listening which surprises language and its speaker. There is a kernel futural which generates sayables from out of an unknown that is only swervingly dependent on the extant grammata-syllables that approximate it. The swerve, edging grammar, nudges it into the grammarless, the unorderable yet ‘ordained’ sayable, meaning it is invested with the authorability of the swerve. That ordination implies and even demands every threat and often the reality of excommunication; that is ‘editing the poem’, meaning rehearing it in light of the maturing serve, and so improving the approximation in exactitude and grace in ‘imitating’ the swerve or, better yet, the kernel futural of sayable-creation.

There the poem-idiomatic swerve keeps swerving in the extant set of sounds-words-images which have been approximated by the poem; so it is always hearing past itself. There is in this maturation a phase of recognizing which elements must be eliminated for the poem to be entirely that which gives access to the now-approxsayable listening, which the poem wants to be heard past itself as. At minimum: past the grammatizable, the interpretable, the paraphrase, into the conjuration of not-yet-sayable potent-being. It wishes to shelter the potent-being in a husk of words which reading the poem will strip away and devour, leaving the unique iteration (catalyst-complex) of the kernel futural which that poem accesses or (ideally) swerves into.

The iteration of poetry is an invitation to swerve; to trust language can open to a not-yet-sayable even if this calls for an arrant mistrust of language, as one must mistrust an accepted limitation to discover what’s possible. That is not to encourage transgression for its own sake, which easily confounds itself with manipulating significations in an extant language-world-game. Indeed there is nothing transgressive per se about the not-yet-sayable, for it is too free, too to-be-discovered, to adhere to the bounds of the sayable, even by negation; on the contrary, in practice it unleashes an open pleroma of affirmations of potent-being.

That is why there is zero restriction on how this is done outside the soul listening, no prefabrication or heading, nothing outside the swerve and trusting it, entrusting its full breadth to the poem whose destiny it must be to inhabit it. Thus, the swerve of poetry matures.

Timothy Lavenz
March 12, 2021

[See related: Philosophy of the Encounter]

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2 Responses to The Swerve of Poetry Matures

  1. Rex Styzens says:

    This gave me lots to think about. Left me wondering, “Can one argue with a poem?”

    • tmlavenz says:

      Thanks Rex. Good to hear from you. I’m glad it was thought provoking.
      These meditations come from within my own process of understanding ‘how’ I write poetry. I can’t say I think about the process of writing them while writing them. In the language of the little easy above, it’s not a matter of reflection then so much as ‘following the swerve’ of the words. The danger of a theoretical statement is that it risks solidifying into a method, however. So hopefully the essay resists that and remains on the side of poetry itself.
      Can one argue with a poem? As I conceive of it, no, not really. Except that one can isolate parts of a poem, one can paraphrase what it says, one can deduce from it the idea or philosophy or political position behind it – and then you can argue with that, for sure. But as an act of sound, to argue with it would seem to be like arguing with a piece of music. To do so is to admit one has left the domain of music.
      Perhaps the only thing that can argue with a poem, without leaving poetry, is another poem? There is an Auseinandersetzung even within poems of the same poet’s works, so, it seems plausible…

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