Catherine Wagner | Revision

Though its blueness isn’t illusory, water is only blue far away. Water appears green or brown at close range because when you get close to ocean or lake or pond water, light bounces off particles that obscure the light’s passage. The blue is yours if you remember that it is a function of your position with relation to it. I would like to understand how a poem resolves or devolves into visibility as I work on it.

When we understand a poem as object, bauble, lovely or jagged thing, we see it as particle; when we understand it as action we see it as wave. It is possible to understand certain historical and contemporary debates in poetics as position-taking that emphasizes poetry’s particle nature or wave nature. The “raw vs. cooked” debate maps onto wave vs. particle. Conceptual writing emphasizes poetry’s wave nature (employing particularity in order to do so). Asemic poetry emphasizes its particle nature (to stop time for a moment before the wave, in this case the pressure of the semantic, crashes through). When Sir Philip Sidney says that poetry delights and instructs, it’s poetry’s particle nature that delights and its wave nature that instructs. Sidney also said: “With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climbst the skies.” Exactly how sad he doesn’t say, but the measure, prosodically, that Sidney takes of the moon’s tread is deadly steady. The how of the sad is made of Sidney’s measure of the moon. A viewer takes the measure of reality, and blue moon saw you standing alone.

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