Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

Location: North Carolina, United States

Monday, October 08, 2007

James Emanuel- The Interview

Recently, Dan put his interview of James Emanuel up on Cosmoetica; it's a great document and I encourage all of you to read it in its entirety. I will not excerpt too heavily from it, for I believe you would be better served by simply reading the interview itself, but a brief look is in order:


Poetry and fiction are always around us, waiting to be seized upon, jostled and cradled into new beings. The extra thought not energized, the extra step not willed drops the halfway writer into the category of the fond parents in an old cartoon bearing the words, “We first knew he was a genius when we saw him reading without moving his lips.” A real writer is lucky to find enough time to write, and he will not complain when The Muse is out to lunch. Even without a spade, he will dig in.

As Emanuel very eloquently notes, it is important to pursue the art even when inspiration fails; Art Durkee wrote an entry on Why Poems Written From The Head Ultimately Fail. I agree that it's important to bring things other than technical excellence and ideas to the table; a poem has to be brought into being in a variety of senses. However, good poems can certainly start purely from the head and then develop later on. That is why pursuit of the art is essential, even with a blank sheet against a blank mind.


If such a [multi-talented] person is a writer, he must budget his time in favor of his best or most gratifying creativity. The luckiest in this group are the self-directed ones, those disciplined enough to follow their strongest inclinations, their tightest reasoning. If talent is a curse, I say, curse back at it and keep on going in the direction that calls you most urgently.

The calling often changes over time; Jess and Dan Schneider are both good examples of this, since both have written a great deal of poetry, but neither are currently writing any poetry in favor of other pursuits. I briefly devoted a greater deal of time to photography, but refocused on poetry when I realized my time is better spent with a pen than with a camera (though I occasionally take art shots for fun).


For years, in first approaching the very small children of friends, children not old enough to talk, sometimes I have asked them questions that they could not answer, questions about politics or philosophy; then I have looked at them earnestly, unsmiling, as if their expected reply were important to me. No baby-talk, no coo-cooing. Without variation, their responses have been “adult”: serious, almost struggling to help me in my problem. That means something about discourse.

No comment.


To end, a delightful poem that I had never read before going through the interview. Instead of quoting after, I'm going to quote before:

There is a possible procedure that I do not consciously use: to bring into consideration an idea normally adult but not easily or commonly expressed by adults, then search for a child’s voice and child’s situation to develop that idea.

This is a concept I delight in and pursue; anyone who's followed my writing at least sparingly understands this. For skeptics regarding the effectiveness of the child's view, as well as those who merely wish to read a great poem:


Daniel Is Six

When Daniel is six
all people should know it:
the trees show it,
the winds blow it;
nothing will be quite the same:
even Daniel’s very name
will stretch and seem to make a sound
every time he writes it down
or squeezes it into the air
or combs it through his changing hair.

He was five
and will be seven.
There is nothing under heaven
more of miracle than that
except that Daniel one day sat
upon his bed and combed his hair
and dreamed of what was changing there.

By James Emanuel


Read the interview. Oh, and I suppose it's October now (the Month couplet from October is my favorite)- time for Halloween and whatnot. Maybe I'll be Mickey Mouse or something.

Take Care,


Blogger Dan said...

I did not know of Art's post on poetry. Ultimately, I disagree, for Art is practicing what too many practice- trying to frame ground rules for creativity.

Ultimately, all art is intellectually. Some can start emotionally, but emotion alone is an ejaculation. To have merit, the mind must shape it.

Art's theory may well work for him, but it does not apply to me or Jess, or many artists across other disciplines, incl. poetry.

Too often folk feel that their way is the only way. If one poet follows one habit then he feels that that is the only way to do something.

Art writes: 'ou cannot feel from your head alone. If you insist on only writing poems that you can completely control—writing from your head alone—you will never achieve anything enduring or significant.'

Two word rebuttal: Wallace Stevens.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Shameless said...

Hi Neil, I love browsing through Cosmoetica; there is such a rich array of stuff to think about there. Your lion is looking very much at home ikn your sidebar. I'm glad you finally got one. :-)

5:12 PM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

1. Congratulations again on Cheshire! (Where's his poem? I am anxious to read it!)

2. Come back by my page, I put a special honorable mention in there for you that should have been there before. My apologies, it was meant to be there before.

3. I like this Daniel poem, and I like the excerpts. I'll have to go read that. Thank you!

*big hugs* congrats again,

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

12:43 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

Dan: True, for a theory to have any sort of legitimacy it has to apply to all members of the group in question, and some poets do produce purely from the head. I suppose I have, come to think of it.

Shameless: Yeah, Cosmoetica's a great site. I'm also glad to have adopted a lion; thanks for welcoming me into the circle ^^

Wanderlust: The poem will be ready soon; that said, thank you very much for the award and the congratulations on Cheshire ^^

8:53 PM  
Blogger AnoNick said...

The poem is beautiful. Really reminded me of childhood. I wish I could write like him. ;)

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Sanne said...

Interesting to know.

6:23 AM  

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