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What do we mean when we say a poem is a machine? Part 7: Dara Wier

March 13, 2012 \am\31 10:14 am

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting individual short “essays” from a handful of poets responding to the question “What do we mean when we say a poem is a machine?” The first response is from Dara Wier:

How Can a Poem Be Like a Machine

It would need to be the kind of poem in which cause and effect is this poem’s primary or strongest characteristic.

From its inception: it would tend to be a poem conceived of curiosity as to how something or some things or some things and some ideas or ideas and some things and some weather, water, animals, atmosphere, extraterrestrial everything, more than one human more than one human more than the poet human who is writing the poem———as to how any of this is.

What is the difference between a metaphor and a transformation or a change or a combination—what is the difference between a suspension and a solution, this will help determine what kind of poem this poem will be.

This poem can be diagrammed, a mechanical drawing of this poem can be realized. It can reproduce what it makes up, it can reproduce itself, it can be reproduced in another location but in general it will still be quintessentially itself. (e.g. we humans may all have skeletons, yet since in general skeletons are not walking around without armors of viscera concealing them, individual skeletons are not often recognized except in special skeleton-specific circumstances) (at one time mechanical pencils would have been necessary for the examination of this poem)

Specs for this poem may be written down.

What’s written down is written down or written up and this will create the illusion that this poem has stopped moving, its motion will have been suspended.

But since, this is nothing but an illusion, nothing in existence ever stops moving, ever, moving is the equivalent of all there is, the essential quintessential everything omni all most and this poem is standing near a tiny area of this. Everything else exists so that motion has somewhere to be.

  1. March 15, 2012 \am\31 10:02 am 10:02 am

    The thing about most machines is that only do one thing: a kettle boils water, a washing machine cleans clothes. When a writer produces a poem he no doubt has an end in mind but he cannot factor in the reader’s contribution. What happens if you fill your kettle full of milk or your washing machine full of shoes? A poem takes the creative process up to a certain point at which the readers takes over and finishes the process off often making the piece their own. I have a poem whose title I can never remember but when I think of it I call it ‘the Barry poem’ because when I showed it to my then boss at work she wanted a copy and said it expressed perfectly how she felt about this guy called Barry; hence ‘the Barry poem’. But a poem is still a ‘machine’ in that verbs, and metaphors and rhyme only work one way just as cogs and levels and springs only work one way and yet just look at all the different kinds of machines out there.


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