Gregory Vincent St.
in your letter you mention the idea "that poetry is, or can
be, a matter/material of thought and this matter becomes all the
more lyrical, all the more exploratory, when freed from the confines
of 'closure' and the more heavy-handed impositions of 'ego.' I've
always taken this sort of poetry," you go on to say, "as
a more sincere engagement with language and the world at hand. Your
poem says it quite eloquently: the pleasure in pursuit / at
hand, in mind, the ideal eye."
you put two things together quite well here that go toward making
a crucial (if not so salient) point about my poetic endeavor: the
more heavy-handed impositions of the ego, and the ideal eye.
Let me first, please, tell you what I mean by the ideal eye. By
this I make reference to eidos, 'that which is seen,' 'idea.'
My reference is to the Platonic theory of ideal forms. My 'ideal
eye' 'looks upon,' 'sees,' the ideal form or eidos. This 'realm
of the eidos' corresponds to langue. About the 'ego,' I want
to first state that I do not think the 'ego' can ever be truly absent
from the poetic composition (and judging by your phraseology, I
think you do agree). On the contrary, the poem (or poetic composition)
is a sort of document of the ego. Now I have to make clear (as possible)
what I mean by 'ego,' I have to make a distinction. According to
philosophy, the 'transcendental ego' is the self presupposed by
the unity of consciousness. When the ego (of the poet), with its
ideal eye, looks upon the eidos, the unity of consciousness is lost.
In this poem, 'Attendant Docent,' and in the manuscript called Theatreland
from which this poem is taken, I did strive to depict this event/situation.
Also, there is a progression, a ladder of thought, here, that might
be called 'the pleasure in pursuit,' and that flows from 'in hand,'
to 'in mind,' up to 'the ideal eye.' I think it has been, in the
past, the task, the duty, of the poet to depict this event/situation,
but such that the lost unity of consciousness is restored; I think
it a 'more sincere engagement with language and the world' to depict
that event/situation (the lost unity of consciousness) as it is
experienced by the poet.
the poet of today is faced with a situation, a condition (I call
it the postmodern condition), quite unknown to the poet of yesterday,
and this is the problematics of signification. And so, even if he
would restore the unity of consciousness, his more sincere engagement
prevents him from doing so, because 1) he would then be writing
fiction, and poetry is not fiction, and 2) he would not be depicting
his condition, which I maintain must color his poetry, or else the
poet is not a barometer, which I maintain he must be, in that he
does measure, indicate and forecast change.
a seeing, or turning,
after modesty, or departure
or when coming out of sleep
the principle, how,
or as in, once, honestly, mistakenly
for the persistence of a passageway
in aim and in pursuit
let upon, then, and to hold
hearing, can hear,
or, that is seen
touching, and looking, and turning to account
the tenses, and the
And given to the absence of intentions.
that it was she when she was honey
or were not cousins,
this is the suggestion, this is the unseen
the Helen and Georgina
the lips that move simultaneously
And this is the pleasure
at hand, in mind, the ideal eye
attendant, and at
in appeal, and in economy
A line on call.
and given to the absence of intentions
being random, and
and in principle, so
St. Thomasino's poetry has most recently appeared in Xcp:
Cross-Cultural Poetics, Washington Review and jubilat,
and online at In Posse Review, moria, sidereality, can we have
our ball back? and Shampoo. He has poetry forthcoming
in yefief, and online at swirl and muse apprentice
guild. His chaps include igne (1993), Ekphrasis
(1993) and Go (1994). He lives in Brooklyn Heights, NY, where
he edits the webzine eratio (www.eratiopostmodernpoetry.com).
He can be reached at StThomasino@nyc.rr.com.