Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Jean Valentine, 1980


The Hallowing of the Everyday

POETRY MISCELLANY: Your poetry is unique in the way it presents itself; it seems to be based upon fragments, shifts in perspective, traces, frayings. As you say in "Twenty Days' Journey," it is a world of things "almost visible," of "The blown away footstep / in the snow." Could we begin by talking about the nature of the vision, this world, where often, it seems, "it was like touching the center and therefore losing it, emptying it of what you might have been able to hold on to" ("February 9th"). It seems a world of deferrals, discontinuities, differences, gaps.

JEAN VALENTINE: I can only respond to your first sentence here, very simply: that when I'm most attentive, these "fragments," etc., are very often what I sense and feel; they are how I "get" this time and place and the currents of my private and public life and the lives around me. To try to clarify this--not to compare--I think of, for instance, Paul Klee's painting, certain newspaper photos or documentary film scenes, or certain intricately plotted mysteries.

In "The Lives Around Me" I include the work of someone like Huub Oosterhuis (you quote next from my version of his long poem Twenty Days' Journey, made with the Dutch poet Judith Herzberg). To try a version of this poem, I had to feel very close to it. There are still mysteries in the poem for me, but I make out this much: a vision of both personal and worldwide suffering of loss and anguish, in which a personal and/or an Everyman "I"

-27-

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Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Path of Saying 1
  • The Sanctioned Babel 7
  • Untelling the Hour 13
  • The Domain of the Marvelous Prey 19
  • The Hallowing of the Everyday 27
  • Event: Corrective: Cure 32
  • Stepping into the Sky 39
  • Unnaming the Myths 48
  • On the Horizon of Time 53
  • Distilled from Thin Air 61
  • The Imminence of a Revelation 69
  • Renaming the Present 77
  • Lives We Keep Wanting to Know 84
  • Doubling the Difference 93
  • Questions of Will 101
  • Settling in Another Field 107
  • Living the Layers of Time 113
  • Double Vision 120
  • Emergencies of the Moment 126
  • The Languages of Illusion 132
  • The Mystery of Things That Are 140
  • Before the Beginning 146
  • On the Margins of Dreams 153
  • Unbreakable Codes 158
  • Projecting the Literal Word 164
  • Answering the Dark 172
  • Shaping Our Choices 178
  • Magic: Power 183
  • On the Periphery of Time 191
  • The Candle in the Pitcher 196
  • Selected Bibliography 206
  • Index 213
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