Overall, I do believe in progress. It wakes me up in the morning. I think my poetics have moved in different directions over the past year or so and so I tucked away my first ms from about three years ago. But I am revisiting it and enjoying how different it is from Resident Alien. This ms, currently titled Mouth Harp, is much more image-driven and connects more to the period style (soft surrealism, juxtapositions of found language, humor via found language, absurdity etc.)
I am going to revise it this weekend and send it out to some first book contests in the near future. I think it might have a better chance of publication than Resident Alien at this point.
After finishing Tom Raworth's collected poems, I really started questioning my assumptions about progress. I do believe in breakthroughs (which happen again and again in different contexts) but I don't know if breakthroughs have to imply a kind-of linear progression.
Maybe a building/adding.
Here's a little experiment (if anyone wants to try it)
1) take some poems by a poet you are not familiar with (this would have to be an older poet with a wide range of work)
2) shuffle the poems so the dates of publication are not linear (which may differ from the date of composition of course)
3) try to rearrange the poems by date of publication or periods (early, middle, and late)
Is it possible that early, middle, and late are mostly random categories? Or do they connect explicitly to both cultural context AND "maturity of style?"
I am thinking of Yeats. He starts with some Pre-Raphaelite inspired verse and then moves into "his own." But his obsessions are quite constant (mysticism, cycles of history etc.)
But is Yeats one of the exceptions? In other words, do we divide an artists career into early, middle, and late or early/mature to reinforce our desire for progress and inviduality?
Or better yet, what is style? What does it mean?
I do want to get better.
Am I better today than 10 yrs ago?
My ideas are better, I think.