Monday, July 13, 2009

Make It New?

Make it new.

Someone said that. Oh, okay, it was Ezra Pound. He said a lot of things and wrote a lot of things, some of them in English. The English stuff was often a silk ribbon seeking your ear and soft against your soul. He was pretty good.

Intimidated as I was by Cantos well-fortressed in discouraging the insecure with their (Cantos) hefty walls of Latin and turreted Greek, I didn't tackle them until recently. Tackling friends, however, is a lifelong interest.

My Cantos tackling was enabled by the reading aloud group that meets at the Bowery Poetry Club. What this group does is to read aloud. Further elaboration involves mention of tomato paste tins and Bloody Mary mix, among which the group sits, pale but not loitering in a basement storeroom every Tuesday, late afternoon. The "club" isn't too clubby which suits me. Thank you, Bob Holman.

Getting laid off also enabled Cantos tackling. By the way, the Cantos were slightly doomed because the book as a whole does not quite come together, many have said, though its parts are mighty mighty (lettin' it all hang out). Yes, the Cantos are a brick house.

Make It New is from Confucius, translated by Pound. I may have heard it early on - I'm relatively new to poetry, but a lifelong English major - but the saying, which I later realized was often quoted - must have fallen like bricks from scaffolding while I was in another state.

I remember walking in Pioneer Square in Seattle with an artist and he said it, I want to Make It New. He meant art. I understood that much. And was abashed, shamed, appalled, startled, scared, curious. I'd been writing fiction by then, but had no idea how I was going to start to make anything new. And I raised the usual storefront objections about nothing is new under the Sun.

Blame it on Magdalena Zurawski's blog, Minor American. On June 12, 2009 she wrote of a reviewer who challenged her for not making it new when, she says, that wasn't her intention. What she writes make sense. Minor American is one of my blogs listed, to the right.

So how innovative am I? Not until I was in my forties did I even begin to reckon with the phrase. The trajectory of my life, much stupidity and wasted time for many years, and now a scramble (casual scramble) to catch up, is opposite of Pound's.

What can I make new? A turn of phrase? A simile? Dialog? I can try.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah -- Write what you like, wear what others like -- Old New Jersey Proverb -- MZ