I Make a Big Deal of It, “It” Being the Poem
A recent back-and-forth (conducted here) on sense and nonsense and charlatanry in poetry got me thinking about one of my favorite poems. I only heard it once 10 years ago, and I’ve never seen it printed, so I’m doing my best here, and also the lineations are mine:
at the stones in the driveway—
I make a big deal of it.
It was recited by a professor at Purchase College. I was taking Creative Writing for Non-Majors, and we were reading a Robert Creeley poem or something, and the professor was saying something about how sexy Creeley was and that he used his gone eye to great effect, stylewise, and that it added to his mystique and the mystique of his poetry, and that back when my professor was in college everyone was into this Western redux of the haiku and this certain kind of insight-heavy poem.
Anyway, so my professor was saying that her professor was sick of it. He brought this poem—“Birds pick / at the stones in the driveway— / I make a big deal of it.”—into class and read it, and supposedly the students loved it. Then he revealed that he wrote it himself as a goof. He didn’t like it, or mean it, or anything. He even put birds in it! He hated it.
Like I said, I love this poem (which, no, I don’t think is all that Creeley-like).
I’m sure this same point has been made a billion times. But it seems to me that whatever happens in a poem, happens between the poem and the reader. The poet barely exists—except as a figment of the reader’s imagination (like whatever gets you going about Creeley’s eye).
So, whatever, I think my real point is, check out this awesome poem.
Also, Revisionings will return next week. Sorry for the holdup.