(originally posted October 2010)
I’m currently reading a book of essays by Stephen Dobyns, “Best Words Best Order”–a book that I now consider an ESSENTIAL read for any writer, especially poets! Halfway through it I feel both challenged and inspired–and a little daunted too, I suppose. The essay that I just finished reading on Rainer Maria Rilke has been in my mind, raising different questions about my work and growth as a poet.
- A willingness to face and forgive all the nastiness (insanity) that the unconscious mind dredges up.
- The need to look (at something) without imposing one’s prejudices, without any ulterior motive. (to be concerned about telling the audience about one’s loves and hates is not to make art.)
- To measure the work against your conscience. Are you truthful in your gazing?Are you being influenced by outside concerns: fame, money or love? Is it the totality of your craft? Are you lying about its completion?
- The need of unconsciousness. Whoever meddles, arranges, injects his human deliberation, his wit, his advocacy, his intellectual agility is already disturbing and clouding their activity. Ideally, should be unconscious of his insights. (Rilke made distinctions between ‘making’ and ‘revising’ and the making was the unconscious part.
- The final point is that the artist must not turn his/her back on any subject. If it catches his gaze, he is not permitted to turn his back on it