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Peake Nasrallah

Poetics Statement

Sometimes I write just to relieve myself and I use my expression of thought onto paper or

the typing into a word processor as a way to free my minds perceptions. Writing however can be

quite restrictive depending upon the writers ability to focus their conscious or subconscious

thought into words in a way that is creatively honest. In other words, composing a work that is

trapped in the guidelines that the composer himself has laid down to filter his words is not only

restrictive, but impedimentary to the discovery of truth which is in many ways what poetry is all

about. Writing poetry is an experience in and of itself because it is not just thoughts being

recorded in a unique way or the combination of words as an aesthetic presentation. A poem is a

walk. The words of A. R. Ammons should echo through your mind powerfully because he is

referring to the walk every poet must take in order to access his or her ability to achieve the

impossible. As John Ashberry highlights, we feel that is still impossible to accomplish the

impossible, we are also left with the conviction that it is the only thing worth trying to do. Many

refer to the effort consumed by poets in their attempts to discover truth through writing as poetry.

Poetry is trying, essentially, because it is the pursuit of an indefinite goal; it is unpredictable with

the notion that it knows no borders, no logical constraints. This point is elegantly expressed by

Ammons when he writes, A teacher once told me that every line of verse ought to begin with a

capital letter. That is a definite, teachable, mistaken knowledge. Only by accepting the
reconciliation that is the poem, both at the subconscious level of feeling and the conscious level

of art.

This having been said, I am not referencing these writers and framing their ideologies in

order to provide you a faade by which poetry should be understood neither am I attempting to

define poetry because that would be a disservice. I am merely framing the window by which

poetry can be witnessed and hopefully build a notion of respect for the way in which poetry is

created. My favorite perception of poetry, maintaining the understanding that poetry has limited

external access, is that of Jack Spicer. He writes, It is fake. The real poetry is beyond us, beyond

them, breaking like glue. And the rocks were not there and the real birds, they seemed like

seagulls, were nesting on the real rocks. Close to the edge. The ocean (the habit of seeing) Christ,

the logos unbelieved in, where the real edge of it is. A private language. Carried about us, them.

Ununderstanding. Spicer metaphorically interprets the falsity in defining poetry through its

constituents or attempting to comprehend it as something singular. Spicer conveys for us that the

complexity of poetry is irreducible and should be kept that way for fear of damaging its integrity

as it was formed by the composer.

I have come to recognize, specifically in my interactions with the Carrie Lorig and her

works, that creative writing in general, certainly poetry, is a way to discover yourself, a way for

me to experience my mind differently. Lorig said over FaceTime in our class discussion with her

that reading and writing poetry is an interference. I am still trying to fully wrap my mind

around this concept in the way that she has, but her words certainly resonated with me

emphatically. She described this walk (and this is a paraphrase of her spoken words over

FaceTime) as something that consists of not only recovering truth, but building yourself upon

your discoveries within the realm of reading and writing. She talked about how her experience
with writing as an undergraduate was only the beginning of her career as a poet saying that each

individual writer needs to have read extensively in order to be able to write with meaning and to

properly engage oneself honestly. Lorig said that her poems represented her raw self and that it

was definitely difficult to openly express her inner feelings because they made her vulnerable,

but advised that vulnerability is good in that it exposes personal truth.

I have a unique experience of poetry because I have had little exposure to it until just

recently and a limited exposure at that. Our class has mainly focused on contemporary poets and

the modern form of poetic prose so my understanding of poetry has been shaped by fairly new

works. I find that I am inclined to write in a style that utilizes repetition quite often because I

confide myself in the power it conveys. Repetition points usually to an underlying meaning

within a poem and can often create its own poetic flavor when stripped from its surrounding

prose. I feel that repetition can act as backbone to my poetry because it gives connection to my

prose offering a sense of chronological character in the way that it marks similarity periodically

throughout. Chaos. Chaos is the often nonsensical combination of words, the bold usage of

space, typographical marks, unorthodox punctuation usage, and the fragmenting of lines and

words. This is my understanding of the chaos in poetry and I really enjoy using it because I feel I

can assert ideas and feelings that are not necessarily present in my words. When I break up lines

and sentences and radically indent or space them, I feel I can provide an experience for my

reader that is more accurate to the way my mind moves. My mind does not formulate my

thoughts and experiences into neatly organized and compiled lines. It is chaotic. I have to

decipher it myself and by using this radical structuring within my poetry I feel that I can more

properly convey a dynamic expression of the life that I live inside my head.
Also, I have come to an understanding that writing poetry about things that are taking

place around you as well as incorporating real information and interactions with people is not

detrimental at all to creativity. In fact, as Tedd Berrigan does in Tambourine Life, I find it

beneficial when I feel as if I have lost my thoughts and cannot think of lines to write, to add

pieces of conversation that I overhear, text messages, phone calls, even addresses, and little

vignettes that my mind picks up on as I am writing or that I can recall from my daily activities.

Incorporating these things helps me discover a flow by which I can follow and build from as I

write, but also grounds me back into a sense of reality, which is helpful in maintaining a quest for

truth in my writing. Talking about life in poetry is acceptable, but talking about poetry in life is

far more interesting. The experiences recorded in poetry are perceivable in a kaleidoscope of

different ways. This is the wonderful concept of poetry. Charles Bernstein discusses Berrigans

work in these words that articulates this idea, Berrigans workcan most usefully be read not

as a document of a life in writing but, inversely, as an appropriation of a life by writing.

Bernstein addresses the understanding of Berrigans work as versatile because Berrigan has

formulated an experience of his life through his poetry.

Berrigan has been very influential for me and my growing concept poetry. He represents

this idea that writing poetry is about the experience and the articulation of a walk to find

meaning whether it be in your writing or within yourself. Berrigans idea of poetry moved me

because he simply wrote it and included everything he could as best he could and then looked

back over his work not fully understanding his own writing until later. He builds his experience

in his writing in order to experience his appropriation of his experience once completing his

writing. He discusses this in his Sonnet Workshop, Part of the premise of writing these was to

no know on many occasions what I was going to come up with, since I was dealing with subject
matter which was clear, but I didnt always want to know. I wanted to get material up from inside

me that I would be loath to admit otherwise, things about myself and about others that I would

not normally say. Once again, referring back to this uncomfortable feeling derived from writing

poetry, it has resonated with me, especially from Berrigan and Lorigs works, that writing poetry

does not necessarily have to be understood by even the poet. Berrigan and Lorig are telling me

that they are writing things that they do not fully grasp themselves and that their work was

unplanned essentially. With the absence of a set goal or purpose, I feel that writing is more

relieving. I can shape my own comprehension of my work at any time, not necessarily while I

am writing or even immediately after.

These poets have taught me how to access poetic thought. I have to navigate my way

around the many constraints like superficial meaning or preconceived notions concerning the

content of my poem and simply write by being as ruthlessly honest as possible according to

Alice Notley. I have a long way to go before I will be able to discover my walk and a much

longer way to go before I will be able to record that walk as a poem. I feel that now, with a tuned

ideology by which to approach the world of poetry, I have the tools to write a poem that has

body, rhythm, feeling, sound, and mind, conscious and subconscious by the words of Ammons.

I struggle with an internal battle over what I should write and writing in order to find out what I

should write. I have found that my poetry is best described as a collaborative effort to expose my

situation. From here I am aware that I far from grasping poetry in its entirety, in fact, I have

barely brushed the surface, however I do feel empowered to continue my writing to represent a

flowering focus on a distinct infinity, as Lyn Hejinian accentuates in her essay The Rejection of

Closure.