Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Of Rain, Dentists, and Poetry

After a wonderful, warm weekend, it's now cold and wet out there. Thankfully, I am inside with Duncan Dog curled up on the carpet beside my desk, the washer gurgling in the back ground and nothing pressing until after supper. So this rain is not a bad thing. It will keep us green a little longer. The visit to the dentist yesterday, well, it was not epic or tragic, but not good news either. Seems I need some rather expensive work done to keep my choppers chopping. I have more teeth than most people, as all four wisdom teeth are fully functional, but Dr. Brown still wants to add one more , to fill in where I had one pulled a few years ago. Seems that teeth lean on each other, sort of like soldiers keeping equidistant apart in a parade. So, I called my former dentist, just to chat about this, and he agrees that it's "not unreasonable."

And what, you're asking has any of this to do with poetry? Exactly nothing. That's my point for the day. Not everything that happens in life will rise to the mark that reads poetry. Rain, for instance, is not a cause for poems, nor is dental work, however present these factors are to me this morning. Poetry cannot be forced out of the mundane, though it might be discovered underneath or off to the side. We have to be vigilant, sniff out poems where they do live, but not force them into situations that don't warrant the ink or the paper. Hemingway said that a writer needs a good built-in c--p detector. John Gardner says, "The writer who can't distinguish truth from a peanut-butter sandwich can never write good fiction." The same holds true for poets. We are not commissioned to immortalize flash and filigree. We are charged with noticing the truth that passes before us. And truth is not the same as fact. So the fact of rain, the fact of getting bad news from a dentist, these are not the truth we're after. Ego leads us to think that anything we feel strongly is poetic. Not so, but what we discover as truth might be a poem. Excuse me, I have to move the wet clothes into the dryer. I promise not to write a poem about laundry. Richard Wilbur already did that. And it was true.

No comments: