Someone had some questions on a Tony Hoagland quote
A real diehard, indestructible, irresolvable obsession in a poet is nothing less than a blessing. . . . A poet without a true obsession, a foundational fracture, a mythic wound, may have too much time to think. The poet without a compelling, half-conscious story of the world may not have a heat course catalytic enough to channel into the work of a lifetime. . . . In the work of a good poet, it is usually possible to discern one or two characteristic emotional zones in which he thrives: melancholy, rage, pity, vengeful rationality, seduction. A mature poet may not know how to command obsession, but understands how to transfuse material into it and then to surrender.
This was my response:
I came across a quote about poems being about the same thing but because the various elements can come to us is infinite number of new, exciting or old but still somehow exciting ways, there's an infinite need for poems to be written. The what, how, why--what to say, how to put it out there, why putting it out means something--has limitless possibilities and its just waiting for your brain to tap into it and put it out there for yourself, for the world, for fun, for earnestness, for no good reason, for all the reasons in the world. So yeah, maybe there's only a few topics/themes out there, but there's infinite ways to express and explore them. There's also lots of chocolate cakes out there and just because I've had a piece of one, doesn't mean I'm done eating chocolate cake. So I say, don't despair or worry about SOSDD (same old shit, different day) factor; it's a given. Just find a way to delight your brain while working on the SOS. That's what I think "transfusing material" is all about.
I would also say you could call the universal experience of living this: "our brokenness (i.e., "the foundational fracture [or] mythic wound")" or you could call it something else, but that poetry attempts to connect--us with others, our thoughts with our experience, our disconnection with our connection. Baron Wormser has a good quote (does anyone know of any bad quotes from Baron?) about this in the introduction to "Teaching the Art of Poetry", "The soul is the depth of our being and poetry is one means of sounding that depth." Whether your calling it mythic wound, brokenness, or just plain existing, it's all the same thing, I think, and that's what we're exploring in poetry.
As far as choosing or not choosing what to write about, I like what I read from my boy Robert Duncan. (He's like my poetry bff right now.) What to write and how to write it isn't a matter of choosing and mastering or conquering, as it is a means of channeling what is out there, tapping into the Thing That Needs to Be Written, listening closely, and writing it. Once I read about this, I could definitely see it, personally speaking. I could see the poems that were me trying to write about something but it just turns up a dud. And the ones where I'm on a different plane while I write it. A different brain plane! That's what I define as the "energy" of the poem. Where is the energy coming from?
One of my favorite questions to ask poets is how they feel when they write poems. Often times I get something like this kind of answer of the different brain plane. Actually, ask any artist or anyone passionate about something how they feel when they're doing it and know they're doing it well--or the way they want to do it--and I think you'll get this kind of answer. My sister is an awesome goalie in soccer. I asked her how she feels while she's playing and she said she blacks out. She just is able to make that leap into the opposite corner, grab that ball with the edge of her fingertips and save that shot without knowing exactly what's happening. Her body just does it. But while she's playing in the net all these years, to keep her concentration while the action was elsewhere, she's made up her own language, which just shows how her brain is doing something else than it normally does, if you know what I mean.