Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In (non-exclusive) favor of the quality of apparent effortlessness even when that effortlessness is not effortless

Non-exclusive, because it's not a mandatory thing for me. I'm just saying it's one thing I like sometimes. It's probably not truly effortless, but there is a quality of apparent effortlessness that exists, which I like. What am I thinking of? Ron Padgett, Eileen Myles, Tim Dlugos, sure. But there's also the effortlessness of nonsense, of saying any old thing that comes into your mind, like with Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery and Gertrude Stein and Clark Coolidge. Even though their stuff is very complex, you don't feel like they're trying to make sense. It's nice. It's still not as easy as it looks, I've realized the hard way. Here's a Clark Coolidge poem from Odes of Roba:

Woman Building

Hung out to drain what ties
made sure of his matchless backing
the color alarming, twinkle of Joplin
arrival leveling, the hard arm a verb
astute and laid down the ampule, the aim
of the stool inaccurate, official
as fish in the room

It was Song Day, Jerome unavailing
going as wrapped in papers, strong
then all this thing in belt, tapped
and paid up, a roofing lesson tint
with klaxon and cold

And she moves, and the room holds rule


Anyway, again, this isn't to say that I only like these styles. I like seemingly "effortful" poetry too. I mean, poetry that sounds like it was hard to write, like a lot of Frank O'Hara's stuff. Or 19th-century poetry. I appreciate it at more of a distance, rather than wanting to do it myself, since I know I'm not able to write like that. I mean, I don't mean to say that I think I can write as well as the other people I mentioned above, like Coolidge, just that I can more easily fool myself into thinking that I can. And that's how I write poetry.


  1. I feel very Godlike, I can post something and in 24 hours you'll post something contradictory. How can I use this to my advantage???

  2. your next post could be, "10 reasons I don't deserve for Matt to send me a check for $500 every once in a while, just for the hell of it."

    not saying it will work, but you could try.