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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Poetics of Paying Attention

Poetry teaches us to see well.

It does not always--or necessarily--teach us to see clearly or, for that matter, to see with an understanding eye.

Poetry does, however, teach us to pay attention.

For example, say one day you are driving home from work. You look up. There, seemingly out of no where, is a building on the corner of the street which always takes you home.

You wonder how that three story, glass and chrome office building came into existence! Did leprechauns  come in the middle of the night and-- in their magically delicious way--erect the edifice using tiny hammers, saws and jackhammers. No doubt. Why did no one inform you of their whereabouts? Where is the neighborhood block watch when you need them?

The point here is obvious. If you--if I--if we could miss an actual building which was built quite literally right before our eyes, then what else are we missing? what else are we not paying attention to?

The world is as strange as it is mysterious. And we are, often, strange and mysterious in it-- as much or perhaps more so--to ourselves as we are strange and mysterious to others.

Poetry can help us see that.

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