Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Live Without Writing

The latest issue of the American magazine Poetry has just arrived. This is a favourite of mine, not so big that you can't have the last issue finished by the time the next arrives. It usually has a nice mix of new poetry, often including translations, reviews and prose writing on poetry.

This issue for instance has a long article entitled Why Live Without Writing - Unpopular answers to poetry questions by German poet Durs Grünbein. The article is translated by Michael Hoffman and is an extract from a forthcoming book of essays by Grunbein.

The article - over 18 pages long - is an entertaining consideration of the reasons which drives a person to write based on what he regards as the three most common questions asked of a poet: 1. Can you really live off it? 2. How long have you been writing? 3. Why do you write?

The poet ends with a discussion of why a writer writes and gives these three reasons:
1. You write to escape your dread of the sheer present. 2. You write because you can’t quite shake the suspicion that as a mere contemporary and biological cell mate, hopelessly trammeled up in your own limited lifespan, you would always remain incomplete, half a man, so to speak.
3. You write because the brain is an endless wilderness, whose roughest terrain can only be traveled with a pencil.

The article can be read online here.

1 comment:

marion said...

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