Joe Weil on ‘Poetry That Speaks with its Hands.’

Gesture via Flickr mcammer

On the THE poetry blog, Joe Weil explains that he prefers poetry of gesture rather than lyrical or narrative poems:

First, with the exception of Whitman, I loath floating or ambiguous syntax. I find blunt sentences, strong verbs, and concrete gestures to be far more aesthetically appealing than ambiguity. Floating is not a desire of mine. Words with no definite position are active principle tend to be inert and uninteresting to me. I also am not a big fan of conventional plot, or linear progression. I like quick bursts of energy, the voice storng and moving between different registers of speech. this does not fit the groove of what we currently recognize as lyrical poetry. It also is outside the groove of what we call narrative poetry proper (which I often find pedestrian and boring). I am far more interested and turned on by affective–narrative, poetry that excites with many gestures and strong movements.My poems are too cognitive for many contemporary poetic tastes, yet, among the narrative poets, or those more conventionally anchored to narrative, i am considered too lacking in progression and the nuance of progression. What many contemporary poets admire I often find inert and faux-lyrical. I also have no love or particular patience with neutral registers of speech and much of what passes for lyrical shares this very middle brow way of uttering–a sort of ongoing equivocation and mincing around nuances that may or may not exist. No thanks.

via the the poetry blog.

When a poet says he is bucking the trend of much of contemporary poetic tastes, my ears perk up. Contemporary poetry reeks of a postmodern worldview and fragmented self so thoroughly that I am intrigued by suggestions that poets are finding their way to new and more expansive modes of expression.

In Joe Weil’s explanation for his poetic tastes, I see two key elements that resonate with my own sensibilities: firstly, an enjoyment of poetry that comes from the body, not only from the mind; secondly, a preference for poetry that moves beyond inert ambiguity into concrete and active formulations, or as Weil puts it, getting over “a sort of ongoing equivocation and mincing around nuances that may or may not exist.”

Where I find Weil’s taste most questionable is its aversion to progression. He says, “ i am considered too lacking in progression and the nuance of progression,” leading me to wonder if he is averse to looking directly at the evolutionary impulse of Spirit. That is to say, can his poetry express the unfolding holarchical and systematic aspects of Nature, or does it dwell instead in the element of chaos and chance? Recognizing evolution through words is one of the tasks of a more integrated consciousness, one capable of using poetry not only to gesture but also gesture towards something greater than the self and what its senses perceive.

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