Month: May 2019

Process and knowing

Hello poets and readers,

Poets need to be able to inhabit the place of unknowing, in order to bring new realisations, techniques, forms and processes into the known world. In an article recently published in TEXT, ‘A New Suite: The Process of Knowing through Poetry’, I highlight the fact that the noun ‘knowledge’ is unnecessarily privileged in western writing, compared with the verb ‘knowing’, and emphasise that knowing how to do something is the most important aspect of knowledge. That knowing how to do something is what matters most is an idea found in various forms in writers as diverse as Aristotle (the knowledge of how to make things); William Carlos Williams (knowledge as ‘a living current’); Mark Johnson (knowing as a process of inquiry); and Jen Webb (poets offering ‘new ways of knowing and doing’). These are all descriptions of active states characterised by the verb ‘to know’. But we don’t always know how to do something until we’re doing it and working it out in process.

In the article, I show that articulating a full description of poetry composition from inspiration to the final stages of editing demonstrates that artistic knowledge is best defined as a process of knowing. The essay is a hybrid which presents a group of poems I wrote in response to the second Poetry on the Move festival at the University of Canberra in 2016. I discuss poems and approaches by Samoan-born, New Zealand-based poet Tusiata Avia and Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, who were poets-in-residence at the festival. The article tracks the drafts of my poems and the editing process, reflecting on the ways in which I work with unknowing and how knowledge emerges through the poems. The poems concern the topics of knowing and observing the world; knowing memory and integrating the past with the present; and knowing the body. They embrace embodiment, imagination and biography, conscious of antagonisms between memory and the present. You can read the full article here.

Lisa Samuels and multiplicity

Hello poets and readers,

In an interview with transnational poet Lisa Samuels, she suggests that at the heart of her poetry and her process is a multiplicity of reference and background. When asked by interviewer Jack Ross, in the first issue of the revamped Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, which writers inspire her she answers in terms of categories, and says that she is as likely to be inspired by, “patterns, sounds, place histories, images, philosophy, statistics for a country’s fabric imports, dictionaries, encyclopedias, poetry, experimental drama, strange comics, physics hypotheses, theory, and manifestos,” as writers (41).

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