Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Carol Muske, 1981


Stepping into the Sky

POETRY MISCELLANY: One of the most compelling aspects of your poetry is its search for origins that seem always already lost, deferred, deflected. "Coincidence," for example, presents a groping back to define a love in terms of the self's origins, to find the self and the other coming from the same origin: "I remember you / like the first extension of myself / in sunlight." But the search goes even "further back. The beginning of the body / in other bodies, the hall of mirrors / from which we are borne." The origin here is an endless labyrinth. Even in an earlier poem, "Birth," the "cypress, unbridled, give birth / to something lost, / something tricked in the wind's clear pitch-- / its bottomless circling." The speaker in "Coral Sea, 1945" tries to define her own origin by appropriating images from the outside world into her experience of existence in the womb. In "The Invention of Cuisine," too, the thrust is back toward an origin, this time toward an origin of the race, and toward an origin of imagination in our imagining back then. The origin is like the "presence" of gaps, absences, holes that "elude" the character in "Photographer." I suppose in this context that all poems become voices of desire.

CAROL MUSKE: I read somewhere that "birth canal" experiences, the whole process of birth, is a trauma from which we never fully recover. . .or remember. If you think about it, the notion of being thrust toward the unknown by contracting walls, pulled head or feet or God-knows-what first

-39-

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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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