Inciting Poetry: A Lesson in Tearing Things Together

by Dave Arenas

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Component Poetics1

 Explaining

also example2

remove context

whittle down to

command3

*

surrender model

maximal giving

in minimal narrative

shorn of links4

*

not

what does this mean

but

how will you tear at it

use

turn against its originator5

*

to start

poem

critique

contort

neither me

nor counterfeit

*

speaks not one

not just word

but idea as component6

*

then handed out

screwdriver hammer nails

concepts without history

solitary words link fragilely7

*

rupture to wait

invite another’s decomposing

not confusion, deposition

or evasion

*

just

break

in syntax

want another’s

twist

*

no self

moral

don’t follow

*

read

gut

reposition

write

your own8

*

irreverent

absolving

deformed

wound sucks

doubt’s finger

*

text missing

middle

the how to process

not cajoles

shall

*

to isolate

that another may seize

reassemble confused

*

poetic

dissolving into

and

instigating9

Dave Arenas. Component Poet.

1. …is a type of poetry writing that tries to reduce expression to components of concepts, ideas, syntax, punctuation, pauses, and syllables. The hope is the emphasis will be less on trying to decode the text and more on cutting it apart and using the parts to make new poems, varying from the original.

2. Component poetics attempts to bridge the gap between the explicative and the experimental. The creative experimentation entails a variation in form without anticipating the outcome and an explanation that encompasses ideas (explications one receives) and concepts (explications one constructs or conceives). The reconciliation rests in the response of the reader, who writes another poem incited by but differing from the poem read. Such reconciliation may not happen. The point of poetics is in its root, which, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains lies in the Greek poiein or “to create or make.” Component poetics strives to incite more poetry writing through its inadequacy of complete thought and style.

3. Commands can be most simplistic and most easily critiqued. The point is to bring the lines to their most simplistic so as to open the poem to critique and reediting.

4. In Component Poetics, the image, the concept, and the narration are emptied of their self-sufficiency, in other words, of their capacity to express.

5. Component Poetics seeks a vision of communion, wherein writers share their work in constant rewriting. The reading of texts becomes not an end in itself but a confrontation wherein the text strives to instigate the reader to conceive and write their own thoughts and ideas. The means by which this is done is by deliberate and deliberated incompletion, pitting the identical, the stated, against the non-identical, the unstated, in a form that demands a completion, but where none is given. Incomplete sentences, subjects missing verbs, verbs missing objects, questions not stating what confounds them, inappropriate and unfamiliar word order, assertions and descriptions in contradiction, statements missing contexts—all of these constitute incompletion. In this sense, Component Poetics is a form of agitprop—as with Emily Dickinson, her posthumous admirer, Paul Celan, and Cesar Vallejo—striving to achieve Bertolt Brecht’s assertion that what is needed is propaganda that makes us think.

6. A component is both a part of a whole and something that can be appropriated for use. It can be exchanged, borrowed, and applied. In that sense, by its structure and conformity to other elements in its environment, it is neither self-sufficient nor static. Rather, it is a discrete object that can be used to make a whole and a tool that can be used to change an environment by acting upon other objects. It is a part that can link with other components to form a whole and a tool that can be applied to other objects to change them. Component Poetry strives to be constitutive and useful as a tool. Component Poetry is never a finished product but rather an incomplete part that can be rewritten into a newer poem and a tool that incites critique, challenging the reader to write an entirely different poem.

7. In the fragility of meanings drawn from word associations, Component Poetry forwards the contingency of words upon human imagination, reasoning, and experimentation with new meanings, as well as, the capacity of the imagination, reasoning, and experimentation to construct infinite ideas and concepts through language.

8. In that Component Poetry demands experimentation the process is not pedagogical, but heuristic. In poetry, thinking must move beyond the reproduction of knowledge to the creation of new concepts and ideas. Here, heuristic learning occurs in the writing that seeks to incite new writing differing from itself.

9. Dissolving into and instigating constitute communing: that is the spiritual vision of Component Poetics. The spiritual struggle of Component Poetics is to write incompletely in ways that arouse the reader to rewrite, while surrendering the poem to the rewriting of the reader.

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