I have promised a post concerning last Thursday’s master poetry class - conducted with B.H. Fairchild. After a bit of reflection on the experience, I am ready to externalize those thoughts here.
Fairchild’s approach began with establishing his current definitive formation of what a poem is. Prefacing that he was not trying to be restrictive he noted that his definition has been somewhat fluid over the years. Currently he defines it this way:
A poem is a verbal construction, which through an array of prosody and rhetorical devises of embodiment achieves an order of being, an ontology, radically different from other forms of discourse (with the exception of certain forms of fictional and descriptive prose)
I was most intrigued by the "order of being" and his commentary surrounding this point. It seems he views poetry as a way of "being" in the world. It is an order unlike anything else.
He took the argument of some poetry and prose have a narrowing separation and stressed that while the two do overlap, they are alike. Otherwise they would be contiguous. He noted math and physics overlap at points but they are indeed different. The same is true of biology and chemistry.
There was discussion of the interior life of the poem – the sound textures or auditory aspect of the poem which he seems to think we don’t pay enough attention to these days.
There were a series of poetry manuscripts that we as a group went over. Expressing thoughts about meaning – syntax – line breaks. I especially appreciate the approach Fairchild took to the manuscript examinations. It was not done with judgement but certainly conducted thoroughly and with an intent to bring each of us to our own assessments if the material was working or not.
I am still processing a good deal of the material nearly a week later. The combined exposure to his reading and class was most educational.