Friday, October 28, 2022

SHOP TALK (TO) POETICS: about the forms of writing - presentation to MA Creative Writing, Edge Hill University

SHOP TALK (TO) POETICS: oh yes, 'shop talk' about the forms of writing, some notes for a presentation to the MA Creative Writing, Edge Hill University, on my patented buzzword, 'poetics'. (Oh, yes, this was my 'thing'.) Tonight. These notes (these links) might prove of use beyond the limited context, although it didn't feel 'limited' tonight.

By means of introduction, this is who I am, what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I hope to do: 

These are some of the texts I used tonight, rapping, in between whatever it is I said:

I used ‘Gathering from the Past’ to introduce the topic, see:

 on the excellent ‘Creative-Critical’ website:

 though ‘Creative-Critical’ does not quite describe the focus of poetics as ‘shop talk about form’.

 Three famous examples of poetics suggest the range of possibilities:

T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett and Salman Rushdie each present themselves as writers of poetics.

A dry run for the introduction to Atlantic Drift: An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics is posted here, but, of course, it may be found in its final form in the anthology itself (I thought it quite useful tonight,, though I only referred to it a bit, it's a course text):

This itemises further examples you may read (though they are focussed on poetry; remember: ALL writing has poetics!).

I wanted to talk about what isn’t poetics. (This could be more useful than what it is, we thought!) Two examples:

ONE. Against exegesis: ‘don’t explain’. Poetics doesn’t explain. Explained here, with reference to Malcolm Lowry's famous explication to Jonathan Cape:

TWO. Poetics is not a manifesto (you can find the bit I’m concentrating on in the third paragraph, but poets might want to read on. My first sentence-paragraph is pretty axiomatic to me too: that 'the writings that writers write about writing are curiously misread', though that wasn't my major theme tonight.).

(Though if the word 'manifesto' helps (you), use it!) My litany of definitions of poetics (to suggest its multiple varieties and FORMS) may be read here:

after the introduction ‘Gathering from the Past’. (You’ll find that ‘gathering from the past’ is part of the first definition.) They begin:

Poetics is the product of the process of reflection upon writings, and upon the act of writing, gathering from the past and from others, speculatively casting into the future.

Poetics is a discipline, though a flexible one.

Poetics is a discourse, though an intermittent mercurial one…. [and so on…]

I didn't actually read all of this anaphoric litany, though I'd intended that. Perhaps I should have rehearsed, as I would have for a poetry reading. 

I wanted to make passing reference to the best book I’ve read on Creative Writing, Andrew Cowan’s new (2023!) Against Creative Writing, but in this context I only referred to the part where he (very briefly) makes reference to my notion of poetics and to the pamphlet The Necessity of Poetics, on p 176. He also reflects on the rise of ‘exegesis’ in some Creative Writing commentary, while I recommend a strategy of ‘Don’t explain’! See here:

After discussion of the students’ poetics (I prepared an oral questionnaire for them) I didn't have time to read my own poetics. (I wouldn't dream of mentioning theirs, in any detail, here. Our discussions are not for public consumption.). 

This poetics refers to British Standards, not yet a book, but now a finished project (more or less): see here: The poems in the book are all versions of Romantic Era sonnets, Wordsworth to Hartley Coleridge, including Clare and Mary Robinson. They treat of the twin subjects Brexit and Covid in the ‘twin’ forms of Romantic sonnets and my sonnets! The poetics in full may be read here (but I had a shortened version for the evening, but that didn't find air-time):

It seemed only fair to make my own poetics available to the students. OK : it's now 01.53 - and I'm back at home, a number of (Handyman) drinks on(wards), and I think it's time to let Rory Gallagher (on the CD) yell, 'Let's go home!'