Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jan Zwicky - Poet and Philosopher

This week, more than usual, I've been thinking about the writing of poetry. The reason? I'm attending a weekend workshop (I had actually written wordshop, which is probably more appropriate) on the writing of poetry with Mark Tredinnick, and he asked us to send four poems, and in return, he sent us four of his. One of Mark's poems entitled, Partita, is dedicated to Jan Zwicky. Mark has recommended her poems before, so I decided to take a longer look. Now Mark is an essayist, writer, inspiring teacher and in essence, a philosopher as well, and looking at Jan Zwicky's biography and her poems, I can see why he has suggested I read her work.

I have added a link to her biography and a video from youtube, so you can decide for yourself whether you add her to your reading list, as I intend to mine.

Jan Zwicky - Poet and Philosopher 

So what, you may also ask, has this to with quilts?

A whole lot, is my answer. I've spend time this year thinking about
just that subject. It was this time last year (also at a wordshop given by Mark) that I was introduced to the study of Prosody. I may have known about it from school but not given it a name, to quote Lewis Turco:
In order to write poetry, one must have some kind of language system, or prosody--a theory of poetry  composition , or an organizing principle--within the bounds of which one can build the poem. Form, then, whether it be 'internal' and 'organic', or 'external' and formal', is of major importance. (The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, 5).
Prosody is also a term used in linguistics as the internal structure of language--the sound of words in language. Utterance.  The musicality of language—its pitch, loudness, and variation in syllable length. 

I intend to write in greater depth on the links with quilts and processes of quiltmaking as I am intrigued by the possibility this emphasis on structure and (material) form. In writing this, I realise I have become overwhelmed with formal aspects of making poetry this year and yet, perhaps that's not a problem in and of itself as that's how I first came to quiltmaking. And the study of and the thinking about prosody has opened up my mind to poetry I already knew, or thought I knew, for many years: I had mentioned TS Elliot's poems, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in a poem I was editing for this weekend, so I took my tattered copy of the Collected Poems off the bookshelf and looked at it again...its structure, the rhyming pattens Elliot uses and the extraordinary images...and now I'm lost for words but hoping they'll return. 

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