Today, I am examining words–especially the ones I want to use freely, which is tantamount to the exploration of diction, mine particularly and yours as a side effect. Asking me why before I can get this posted (tantamount to being redundant until I complete this post), will slow me down a little, but will not stop me. I think about words all the time, especially ones that combine with others to make visual images or words that make you respond or react or just throw up. Tantamount to my delivery of said words is their order, shape, form, and impact. What makes me want to look at that today is my recent awareness that I was missing a few words, occasionally, not always. Words that usually end or start the sentence. I say “uh” a lot lately where the real subject of the sentence should be something like this: “Because Walt Whitman spent time during the Civil War observing (sometimes helping) the many catastrophically wounded soldiers, often comforting them, he “uh” wrote many poems about “uh” dead soldiers and the brotherhood that occurs between and amongst men at arms.” Clearly, I gathered that information based on reading many of his poems, his life story, and my interpretation of all of that. But I am not satisfied with expressing these well-known facts nor giving a shallow representation of a famous poet like Walt when I know (according to his many poems) he was a deeply layered personality, thoughtful and sensitive, worldly while at the same time contemplative in the most ascetic sense. I am reading some of his poems again because I believe they are inspirational and at the heart of American culture. Even as old-fashioned as they are, even with their use of archaic yet moving language, they still maintain a freshness that continues to apply to American popular culture today (hence the reason why they are classified as literature–works of art, etc.). What I am looking for is the origins of free verse, improvisational writing, experimentalisms. No doubt, any researcher could find evidence of experimentalist writing in any number of our more famous poetic forefathers and mothers. Emerson, Blake, Dickinson, Stein. The list goes on ad infinitum depending on the scholar. But what characterizes an experimentalist bent? What drives a poet/writer who wants to go against the grain of established form. What does it mean to be avant garde when the last time someone called themself that, the bohemian police threw them in jail. Well, not real jail, more like put them in a class on poetics and said take that!
Yes, Rules–any number of cliches apply to rules. My favorite: You have to know the rules to break them. Hogwash! You have to break the rules to know them, I say.