Friday, April 01, 2016


I went to the library today and found four totally diverse books-- poetics, religion, and murder. Perhaps not to at odds with one another. The Bible contains poetics, religion, and murder. I think I'll start with Charles Bernstein's Pitch of Poetry-- an anthology of diverse ( there's that word again) voices all writing of pitch and echopoetics.

And that's the rub. What is pitch? "Pitch is the sound of poetry. But pitch is also the attack or approach. The angle."

Bernstein continues, " The value of a poem's pitch is not in the words but in what the words allow for a reader."

I want to learn, to expand, to write one really good line. A line that will resonate.

I think of the carny worker who makes a pitch to the audience-- to enter the tent and watch the fire-eater devour a blazing cone of fire , the rubber man do contortions and the sword swallower devour a warrior scimitar.

Is that what the poet does? In a sense yes. I think the poet lures the reader into words and metaphors-- a place of sleight of hand-- and invites the reader to engage. But not every poet or every poem offers its reader a sword swallower. Remember how you wondered if the sword really went down his throat and if so how?

I recall spending the entire ride from Coney Island to the Bronx engaged in a conversation with two friends about the people we saw in the sideshow. Not only did we wonder about their skills, but also what led them to a small storefront sideshow billed as the best sideshow in Coney Island. We believed the barker's pitch and were mesmerized.

Now to delve into The Pitch of Poetry.


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