Johan de Wit

Keep your hands off me                                                                        7 July 2007

Poets make use of their first choice when they poeticise language. First: not to be confused with denominational, potential or rational. When poetry is equal to poetics, writing is first stop, second draft and third chance all in one. Poetics endows (there’s no better word to endorse) poetry with linguistic qualities by stating that poetry is language. What more is there to say? As yet, poets don’t define reality; language still does that for them. When poets differ in their poetic practice, they take their cue from the way language is used in the wider community. Poetry communities working in a universe of their own language provide sustenance to the loyal cooperatives. It's hard to see who else would benefit. Lines are linear, but words are cyclical if not circular, certainly when part of poetry. When the time comes to connect one and the other, there is usually no place to hide. Usage calls for a break, whispering allows the culprit to be conditioned — first it is the pulpit to take a stance, then it is the cesspit to gather evidence before the cockpit finally gives language the all clear: stay away from the edge of the page, the approaching poet is not going to play cat and mouse, the footsie index is all that’s needed to entertain a cynical audience. The state gives way to science and science gives way to money — politics and poetics give way to "that's the way it is". So far, so good! A univocal poet is the agonist of island hoppers — touting names like hubris and peras readmit common sense to the playground. Ultimately the acquisition of poetry is dependent upon the reader’s most intimate contact with language — adapted to fit the bill — or, what might amount to anarchy, an interrogation of the shifting boundaries of authenticity. Without language to copy poetry would be a blank page: see the poet as interventionist, an army of friends as a coalition of the willing. Poets who adopt the position of poet by choice face a build-up of calcium in the veins. By now poetry has developed an incestuous relationship with poetics.