Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Robert Pack, 1974, 1981


Questions of Will

POETRY MISCELLANY: A number of your poems contain references to the idea of beginning. In one poem, for example, you say that beginning "is a trick of gathering oneself / into what one believes / and stepping forth." Does the concept function for you as a metaphor for other sorts of beginnings?

ROBERT PACK: I think the value of considering any point in time as a beginning is that it adds a focused intensity to that moment. It is necessary not only to begin, but to be aware of the beginning as such. Whenever you begin a poem, you attempt a partial redefinition of yourself; there is something about yourself or about your sense of the world that you want to encircle in the act of making the poem. The idea of beginning, then, is very closely related to the idea of willing yourself into an intensified consciousness. The important concept is will--willing oneself to will, choosing oneself to choose. These are two aspects of the freedom that you win as you write a poem; you make a choice and will that choice into being. Here again the analogy with one's life is helpful; the feeling that you can control words within a poetic form strengthens the feeling, the belief, that you can choose to be the kind of person you want to be, given the history of your own life which imposes limits.

POETRY MISCELLANY: In "A Spin Around the House," you exclaim: "Everything spins / in its chosen space--I will it so." There's a way in which the

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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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