Friday, March 15, 2013

Reading Ruefle Reflections on Madness, Rack, and Honey

The poet and scholar Mary Ruefle has published a book of her lectures on poetry and writing and writing poetry, opening with an introduction on her lack of qualifications:
I do not think I really have anything to say about poetry other than remarking that it is a wandering little drift of unidentified sound, and trying to say more reminds me of following the sound of a thrush into the woods on a summer's eve -- if you persist in following the thrush it will only recede deeper and deeper into the woods; you will never actually see the thrush (the hermit thrush is especially shy), but I suppose listening is a kind of knowledge, or as close as one can come. "Fret not after knowledge, I have none," is what the thrush says. Perhaps we can use our knowledge to preserve a bit of space where his lack of knowledge can survive. (Mary Ruefle, "Introduction," Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, Seattle and New York: Wave Books, 2012, page viii)
Would that I lacked her lack as a poet, having what she has and has not, following the song of myself ever deeper into the woods . . . but I shall have to content myself with following the rueful song of this other thrush, hoping, as I begin this book, to lose my self there . . .

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