Under the dim light of the full moon, a group of poets gathers in a hollow of Pearl Street’s Morrison Alley. Most people come here by rumors carried from one to the next in whispers. Some find it in a drunken wrong turn, stumbling down an alleyway to find a group of madmen howling at the moon. Or maybe it’s a bartender on a lonely cigarette break or lustful lovers who just can’t wait, looking for a moment alone but are thrust into the edges of poetry instead.
The blessing of writing, it seems, is that one becomes many. This, given the fact that a word exists only in the company of other words. (What is a word without another? A cry in the dark. More on this forever.) This, given the fact that the written word is comprised of letters. Flesh begotten of clay. What are we before we are?
"Everywhere in the world people have invented stories about the Beginning, about how the universe was created. All mythologies are a way of coming to terms with the fact that man lives between two times. He is born and he dies like every other animal, yet he can imagine the origin and the end of everything. And as a result of this imagining, he lives with the eternal, with that which preceded time and will follow it, with that which is continually there behind time."
"Ritualistic utterances, therefore, whether made up of words that have symbolic significance at other times, of words in foreign or obsolete tongues, or of meaningless syllables, may be regarded as consisting in large part of presymbolic uses of language: that is, accustomed sets of noises which convey no information, but to which feelings (in this case group feelings) are attached."
"Charles believed intensely that no one of them could have played so consistently urgent a role without the warm affection and steadfast support and devotion of the others. The intensity of their feelings could properly be called love. They had fought for each other, valiantly, sometimes when it was not merely inconvenient but dangerous. Yet never did they fight each other, indulge in jealousy, envy or spite. There was not a destructive bone in their corporate body."
"The very notion that you are sustained at each moment by an infinite plenitude of all that is contingent means that this life you call yours has value behind finite conceiving; it means that every other life is subject to the same terms of wonder. This is real; this is really happening. I am here by amazing grace and marrow music. The same mind that brought you to nothingness teems with sublime community."
What is it about artists that empower the wonderers and discoverers in us? It's true that art can obfuscate hope and willingness as easily as it emboldens such things. But it is not the artist's job to justify or otherwise explain her makings, which must be allowed to speak for themselves as autonomous creations.
Poetry is so important because of the quality of space it activates when it is shared—a deep, sometimes terrifyingly vast field of meanings real, perfect, possible, and indeterminate. This depth and its quality speaks at once to the simultaneous revelation of the apparent and the hidden, what Stéphane Mallarmé might call a "pure notion"...