Tuesday, February 09, 2021

The "small back room" and "inspired notes" of poetry: Ciaran Carson, Wayne Miller, Tomas Transtrømer

In "When Talking About Poetry Online Goes Very Wrong", Wayne Miller quotes Ciaran Carson – "Everything happens in a small back room" – and sees poetry as a "'small back room' of literature well out of view of most of those who participate in literary culture." This image recalls Tomas Transtrømer's characterization of poetry in terms of notes he and his "like-minded school friends" passed to each other: "There is the fundamental situation of poetry. The lesson of official life goes rumbling on. We send inspired notes to one another." There's no "small back room" in a classroom, but there's still the back of the room where poets can whisper to each other. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 February 2021)


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