Friday, May 16, 2008

Ideas 0 Poetry 1

Baroque in Hackney, as ever, pulling out the better nuggets, mentions a lovely quote from Robert Rauschenberg, in response to the question "don't you ever run out of ideas?" he says he finds them limiting - and they don't go that far. There's quite a discussion in response to the post that I was going to enter, but realised, it was becoming a "post" in itself. I'm a little concerned that in the dismissal of "ideas" - not by Katy, but in some of the comments that follow - there's a confusion between an "idea for a poem" (which is kind of what Rauschenberg's questioner was asking, in relation to his paintings), and the "idea expressed by a poem." You can, of course, have hundreds (thousands?) of ideas for poems, and still never write a good one, yet, I think if your poetry (or painting or fiction or music) is trying to express an idea, then if the idea is good (or at least, important enough to you to be expressed), then the likelihood of the artwork being good is increased. This is not to say that I'm advocating an art of ideology, but that I feel we could do with more writers, artists, poets, musicians etc. expressing rather than just having an idea. One of the (many) reasons I like Robert Lowell is that his poems both have a strong "idea" for the poem, and, importantly, a larger idea that he is trying to express; "For the Union Dead" being one supreme example.

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