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M. Travis Lane. Excerpts from the Introduction to TEMPORARY SHELTER and from "A Reader's Deductions," in KEEPING AFLOAT

Excerpts from the Introduction to TEMPORARY SHELTER

...this book is no diary. I am under revision but have not grown wiser. And my poems do not build upon each other like coral polyps in a reef. Each of these poems is a separate experience. To force progressive or developmental structure on a miscellany of discrete amusements is to forsake the fact of poetry for the wish of theory. Where poems are not linked, they must be read as separate...

When Adrienne Rich writes of meaning searching for its word like a hermit crab its shell, she makes more poignant Robert Frost's image of metaphor as a temporary and imprecisely fitting shelter against the confusion of experience. Both poets remind us that the word is not the meaning nor is the word created by the meaning. The shell may be discarded. But a shell, a word, is needed. Unhoused, the nude crab perishes.

The illuminations of philosophy are not path but poetry, neither precise nor irrefutable. Theory is only narrative, myth, extended metaphor. An image is no equation. At present, resistance like mine to theory is often characterized as either Anglo-Saxon or as feminine. In me it is largely Emersonian, pragmatic, transcendentalist, a function of reason.

Excerpts from "A Reader's Deductions," in KEEPING AFLOAT

Theory operates according to the principle of indeterminacy; what furnishes one perception obscures another.

We can not construct the questions for the answers we think we want.

The axiom can not disprove itself. Nor God undo math. Forgive necessity.

Most communication is nonverbal; all communication is partial. Half-truths are not lies.

We only bear witness to our own imagination. Rumour shapes experience.

Meaning precedes the word. Perception is narrative. The bee, too, has patterns.

Enigma is the conflux of patterns.

As record of time, a poem is narrative. Image is submerged narrative. Nouns are verbs.

Imagery is not necessary to a poem. Musicality is not necessary to a poem. Ideas are not necessary to a poem. A poem says how its words feel.

The associations of poetry work through convention. Distrust the subconscious; it furnishes clichés.

Disruption, too, is a convention.

Today is new to the old; yesterday is new to the young. What is wholly familiar no longer is true.

I am the story I tell. You are my different story.

To resist the sentence is to resist fellowship.

It is not the poem which closes, but the reader who is let go.

M. Travis Lane's works copyright © to the author.


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