"It is not 'how' things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists."
Similarly poetry doesn't seek to describe 'how' things are but the magic of their very existence. One way of doing this is ostranenie (остранение) or defamiliarizaation - the poet seek to show us something ordinary or mundane in a new way - an example of this is the poem "Fork" by Charles Simic:
This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird’s foot
Worn around the cannibal’s neck.
As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.
Simic believes that "The labor of poetry is is finding ways through language to point to what cannot be put into words." (Simic, Charles, Wonderful Words, Silent Truth - Essays on Poetry and a Memoir, University of Michigan Press, 1990). I like this analogy, when I read a poem I like it to take me by surprise, to turn reality on it's head for a moment.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
The Magic of Existence
Labels: Charles Simic, existence, Fork, language, magic, ostranenie, poetry, Wittgenstein
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