Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Philip Booth, 1978


Lives We Keep Wanting to Know

POETRY MISCELLANY: C6zanne once remarked that his aim was to retrieve objects from behind the atmosphere impressionists drew over them. To do so, he said, he had to become part of the landscape: "The landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness." One could begin to discuss your work by talking about its descriptive quality, that is, the nature of perception for you, the relation between the literal and the figural, the concrete object and the (subjective) image of the object. For example, in "How to See Deer," you seem on one level to prescribe a literal "See / What you see," and you take a similar stance in "Adding It Up." But the poems are obviously more than literal descriptions--as a poem like "Stove," where a whole narrative background is revealed as part of the meaning of the image of the stove. In all your poems, there is a way in which the world enters you as you enter it-perspectives blend. In "Let the Trees," you say, "let your two eyes / fill them, even as then / your own two eyes may / be filled," playing on the poem on "eye" and "I".

PHILIP BOOTH: In terms of the action of the poem, perception is very often visual. And also very often narrative in the sense that the "I" of the poem sees things in a certain sequence which then comes to some consequence--what the poem is about. I suppose I think with Stevens that description is revelation, but that the revelation from my point of view is the result of relationships, whether those relationships are as simple as between

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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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