27 February 2005

"One of the reasons poetry exists is ... "

“Human kind cannot bear very much reality,” [Dannie Abse] points out. “One of the reasons poetry exists is because it has to ask questions to which there is no answer. So there is the quest, but you are not conscious of it.

“I have always loved Freud’s favourite joke about Itzig on his horse. He had never been on a horse before and as he is riding along someone asks, ‘Where are you going Itzig?’ And Itzig replies, ‘Don’t ask me, ask the bloody horse’.

“Freud liked that because he recognised the horse is one’s unconscious. And this is what takes us in a direction, in my case in two directions. Some directions are fortuitous. You know, if your mother and father hadn’t slept together one time, you wouldn’t exist.”

2003 article in the Camden New Journal

do read on ...

I found that while looking for something on the net about a journal Lionel Abrahams had started along with Patrick Cullinan, The Bloody Horse.

I have the first issue of that magazine on my bookshelf above this computer. In its editorial, Patrick Cullinan's words are strangely relevant to our world today:
"To talk of 'literature', of good writing, of art may be obscene or almost obscene in a society as self-destructing, engrossed in conflict as this one is. But the important word is almost. For however cluttered by violence and potential annihilation a society may find itself, it is the writers and the artists who portray the reality of this process... There are multiple ways of telling the truth."
It's interesting to note the contributors to that first edition: Nadine Gordimer; Christopher Hope; Etienne Leroux; Neil Williams and there startling me, Beat poet Sinclair Beiles whom I remember making odd appearances in our writing group with Lionel: an Eric Beach-like figure: here is a poem of his in that collection (p.37):

AFTERNOON SHADOWS

when afternoon shadows lengthen
like drawn knives
and everything which knows hides.
when the sun comes close to the earth
raising the temperature of violence.
when the sun goes and there are black patches
as if the earth has been scorched
be careful of the evening.

... Sinclair Beiles, in The Bloody Horse, n.1, Sept-Oct 1980 (c) Bateleur Press

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