Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (The Force of What’s Possible—Issue 46, October 2014)

Shane McCrae
I Talked to Meet It: On Accessibility

I talked, in an interview once, but probably senselessly, in an interview once, well, senselessly in interviews all the time, talking, but once also, one particular time, about accessibility in poetry, my poetry, about poetics, probably, because I was talking about the importance of accessibility, about how I feel it’s important, it’s important to me, by which I mean to my work, but I’m glad it’s not important to everybody, I’m glad working against it, or at least not thinking about it, or both, which is possible even if it sounds like it isn’t, but it’s easier to be accessible and not think about it—see how possible that sounds? So the opposite must be possible—I’m glad working against it, or whatever procedure results in a poem looking like maybe the poet worked against accessibility, is important to a lot of poets.

I talked about it because I was asked, but also it’s something I’ve thought about often, and think about often, and I say that because saying it’s something I’ve thought about often suggests, or at least leaves open the possibility, that I don’t think about it anymore, and also I had thought about it often before I was asked, but the person asking couldn’t have known that, I don’t think, because I don’t think I had mentioned it before, thinking about it often, though I thought about it often, I think it was the first time I answered a question about accessibility in an interview, meaning it was the first time I was asked, too, but now that I glance at the interview I’m thinking of, I see I must have talked about it before, because the interviewer, asking, referred to something I had said about accessibility in an earlier interview, and that’s what it is, thinking about something often, you get to a point where you don’t know yourself anymore, but that’s not exactly right, you get to a point where you know yourself wrong—thinking about anything often can do that, often does.

I talked about it the first time and the time I remember, the time I’m talking about, but now I’m not sure the first time was the first time, but it’s the first time I remember, or not really, I don’t remember it, but I don’t remember talking about it before then, the time the interviewer mentioned, though I don’t remember talking about it then, either, because it was important to me, which I already said, but said nothing more about, what I said was it’s important to me, because it is now, but it also was important then, because I was concerned then, and am still, with something I called “practical meaningfulness,” which isn’t exactly what I said, I said “practically meaningful,” but I meant the other thing, too, or the same thing, what I meant was that the distinction between accessibility and, I don’t know, obscurity? difficulty? But I think those are false oppositions, the distinction between the one thing and the thing positioned in opposition to it is only important insofar as it helps a reader figure out what they want to read at a particular time—I see I already used that phrase once, “particular time,” meaning, to me meaning, if I am making loops of phrases, repetitions and wanderings amounting to loops, those two usages aren’t on the same loop, because they are too distinct contextually, and instead, because I mean musically, they make an unintentional dissonance.

I talked my way into saying “practically meaningful,” or “practical meaningfulness,” by, well, talking, but I knew I meant it by the time I got to it, by the time I said it, saying it, because, although I want to say what I want to say, when I’m writing, I mean, I also want what I say to be of some use to other people, however limited that use might be, and I would be perfectly happy to know that somebody chose to read something I wrote because they were in the mood for something accessible, if they find it, what I wrote, accessible, or something difficult, if they find it difficult, I would be perfectly happy to know that something I wrote satisfied, or even just met, that reader’s mood, I would be perfectly happy with even that limited use, which means, I guess, now that I think about it, because I’ve talked about it, writing, that I want to be accessible, but that I find the idea of accessibility to be too unstable, it’s almost a useless word, although the conversations that must be had around and about it are necessary, probably the most necessary conversations, but it’s terrible, it’s a terrible thing, because, really, a difficult thing, even a very difficult thing, is accessible if I’m in the mood for it and my brain is working in the right way, and whatever else is working in the right way, to meet it.