Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino


Letter to the Editor:

Jonathan, 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."

Jonathan, 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.

However, 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.


Attendant Docent


a seeing, or turning, after modesty, or departure
or when coming out of sleep

the principle, how, in repeating
or as in, once, honestly, mistakenly

the corners.
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 delicacy
And given to the absence of intentions.





being meddlesome, and astir
that it was she when she was honey

or were not cousins, after all
this is the suggestion, this is the unseen

the Helen and Georgina
the lips that move simultaneously

And this is the pleasure in pursuit
at hand, in mind, the ideal eye


attendant, and at issue
in appeal, and in economy

A line on call.
and given to the absence of intentions

being random, and audition, familied
and in principle, so




Gregory Vincent 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 ( He can be reached at

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