by Cynthia Hogue

Page 7

I was finally able to begin to write again by adopting the methodologies of "inhabiting" the words of others, as I've tried to illustrate -- that is, for example, of employing the methods of quotation and collage that Rich and another poet whose work I'd studied critically, Marianne Moore, had used to formally radical effects. Moore, I had argued in my critical book, creatively recontextualizes the "found language" she quotes (often without attribution, and usually from non-canonical sources).11 A poetic bricolage of sorts, as Margaret Holley aptly describes her methodology,12 her "hybrid method" produces not a different sort of poem, but a hybrid -- a cross between two generic boundaries.

Her method of collage and assemblage liberated me to write at a time when I had no "person" either to express or to impersonalize, to appropriate Eliot's phrase. Without my work in criticism, I would not have happened to have made the in-depth study necessary for creating out of my own incapacitation a way to write again. And so, (if you'll allow me a moment's return to an ego-centered self), I want to close with a poem from my new collection, The Never Wife (Mammoth Press, 1999), which both employs collage (quotations from Vaclav Havel and Marianne Moore) and tries to articulate that dissociated self capable empathetically of "blur[ring] the edges," as Rich says, between my own and others' pain:


     (after lines by Vaclav Havel)

The sun drops scarlet among clouds
into a sea of green hills.
The sky darkens and we do not know,
we cannot, where before nightfall
and near-rape, the burgled
body discarded,
a scar now upon the once
smooth surface of the face--
facing the walk home, alone.
     "We have done this and that,"
     you say, and I, "If we
     hadn't, we could not
     live with ourselves."
Oh to live
with one
self sometimes
slowly even
the violent
have dreams
of self but how
restore to
whole? Temples
burned. Burning
incense scents
the ruins. At the river,
a prayer: "Either
we have hope
     within us or
     we don't."
Like suppliants whose gait
has slowed, we're tired,
"hope not being hope
until all ground for hope
has vanished." This is strength,
"not to live without meaning,
without, finally, love
even in conditions

as hopeless as ours
that gives us hope
here and now."

Here. Now.

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