David Whyte's reading and lecture last night was an evening well spent.
I found his overall presentation a positive plug for poetry as an intricate part of our lives. There was a soft sell of the spirituality of poetry. Not surprising in that he was brought in Unity Church. Still, his poetics is driven by a nourishment of the inner-self and that is hard to separate in at least some minute context from a spirituality of sorts.
He set about as defining poetry as the art of hearing yourself say something you didn't know that you knew. In that conceptual model - poetry is a searching and discovery vehicle. To this, I whole heartedly agree. This has been my own observation, at least to the extent of my experience.
Whyte's work emphasizes mans need to drop the shroud of protection we wrap ourselves in and push ourselves to the edge of who we are. Believing there is an important place for each of us the this universe, and it is only there that we have the courage and the qualities of engagement necessary to respond fully to life's call.
As a reader, Whyte was pleasing to listen to even as his English accent required attentiveness. His voice both quietly tranquil and robust enough to be heard. I found myself not wanting to miss a single word.
Most of his readings were completely from memory and his animation of hands were like an great conductor directing. He often repeated lines... with a slow precision to remind us what he just told us.
His work was perhaps not as metaphorical as much of today's poetry. There was plenty of vision and feel. Some metaphor, but his work tends to lead or pull you in a direction.
I plan to spend some time with more of his works. I'm hoping to order a book or two of this soon.
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has spent any time with his works or heard him read in the past.