Archive for May, 2010

Borges Quote (This blog isn’t dead)

May 11, 2010

“There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition.” – Jorge Luis Borges.
I’ve just finished up teaching Borges for the year, and so much of what he is able to do…to write in a way that calls attention to words and to literature itself, to write in a way that is about the fact that he is writing, that anyone has written or will write or can write or should write…is what I want to be able to do. Of course, I am no Borges and I am not claiming to be.

Even so I think “useless and out of the way erudition” is a descriptor some of my best poems can answer to, or at least I want them to. I’ve also been thinking of this in terms of my utter inability to write a poem that is for or against anything. I admire what poets who engage the political are able to do…hell, I did Irish Studies and my MA thesis was on “Five Belfast Poets,” and you don’t get more political than a poet born in Belfast. This, of course, is somewhat unrelated to Borges, or departing from him, because much of his initial work was rooted in exploration of all things Argentinian, including politics.

Part of me wants to align with Joyce now as well and say that what I would do as an artist (want to do; I haven’t done anything yet) is utterly unconnected to politics. Politics can fuck off; art is above it. Part of me wonders  if that isn’t some kind of cowardice and says “I believe in things; if I am going to write I shouldn’t avoid those things.” And another part of me says that whatever those beliefs are (they are vague and ill-defined anyway) need not ever enter the poetry, that holding them outside of it keeps the poetry better or more pure, or myself more sane.

So at any rate; I think I will try to go with “useless and out of the way erudition.” And try to write some poems about it; this blog is not, despite appearances, dead. I have a number of poems in process and blog posts half finished; thoughts on Joe Hall’s excellent book “Pigafetta is My Wife,” for one, and thoughts on reading Hayden Carruth for the first time, thoughts on teaching poetry and such. The end of the semester/year has been an absolute  bitch of a thing, and will continue to be for another couple of weeks. Expect more regular activity in this space once it winds down and I’m not spending all available free  time grading papers.