Friday, September 21, 2012

How to See in the Dark

Exercise: to see in the dark

Name some of the tongues that lick your ear
what the glass would see if it had eyes

where the flame leaps when it gutters
how the shadow lingers, draws a line

See what the glass would see if it had eyes is a poetic imperative, a mode of thinking posed by George Oppen, who was a 20th century American poet, anti-militarist, sailor and, for a time, a cabinet-maker and expatriate in Mexico, where, as a one-time member of the Communist Party, he'd fled from persecution from the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. He returned to the US and poetry later in his life; he maintained that writing poetry was a particularly acute form of phenomenological investigation.
A biography and links to some essays and poems may be found here:

See too, Forrest Gander, "Finding the Phenomenal Oppen."
and Peter Nicholls, "George Oppen in Exile: Mexico and Maritain."

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