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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ars Poetica

      This weekend while at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival I attended a workshop entitled Ars Poetica taught by Jennifer Jean, Jennifer Martelli, and Marjorie Tesser. 

      The Poetry Foundation says this about Ars Poetica:

Ars Poetica is

      " A poem that explains the “art of poetry,” or a meditation on poetry using the form and techniques of a poem. Horace’s Ars Poetica is an early example, and the foundation for the tradition.        While Horace writes of the importance of delighting and instructing audiences, modernist ars poetica poets argue that poems should be written for their own sake, as art for the sake of art. Archibald MacLeish’s famous “Ars Poetica” sums up the argument: “A poem should not mean / But be.” "
      Below I'm sharing a bit from Horace's manifesto written in 15 BC. I don't find anything about it poetic. Though I do like this excerpt:
"A good and sensible man will censure spiritless verses, he will condemn the rugged, on the incorrect he will draw across a black stroke with his pen; he will lop off ambitious [and redundant] ornaments; he will make him throw light on the parts that are not perspicuous; he will arraign what is expressed ambiguously; he will mark what should be altered; [in short,] he will be an Aristarchus: he will not say, “Why should I give my friend offense about mere trifles?”
      I'm also sharing the one I wrote in the workshop from a prompt the instructors gave us: "If poetry were a room, what or where would it be?" I suspect it would cause Horace to have a Aristarchustic fit. But I wonder. If only he could join me in the kitchen ...
Statue d'Horace

Ars Poetica

Poetry is the kitchen.
First there is the slipper-clad facing
of the bright light of morning.

Then a harsh grinding of beans
… one takes a few slow sips
whether scalding, warm or weak.

Next comes a gathering at the table;
plates, bowls, cups filled with a ladle that
portions ever so carefully.  Seasoned lightly.

Stirred some, the creation comes to stillness.
Tasted, lovingly with the mouth, the ear, the eye.
Eventually there is satiety. Or compost.

You rise, pat your mouth with a napkin,
pause to ponder something out the window,
and scuff off to another room.

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