A Poetic Manifesto: How & Why I Make Poems
I write my poems to mystify myself and, thereby, others. I do this with images, sounds, words, feelings, repetitions, themes-and-variations that, although they evade my immediate understanding, somehow (and here’s the absolutely essential part) insist that I nevertheless try to understand them and thereby transcend myself and my limited understanding of what may or may not lay beyond myself.
In that sense, I suppose you could say that my poems are more shamanistic than “literary,” although hopefully both.
So if and when a poem of mine is successful (at least for me) it represents an entry into the Mysterious, an evocation of something beyond our understanding that nevertheless compels us to understand it — to go beyond our “understanding” — even, perhaps, without the assurance of success.
Also, at the risk of sounding self-contradictory (and not just a little pompous), I don’t write poetry as much as I make poems, almost in the way the surrealists made paintings. First, I open myself to that place of the Mysterious I just mentioned — to the words, sounds, images, feelings, themes and variations that spontaneously emerge from it — and then I apply my poetic sensitivities to carefully constructing a finished poem — or what is, for me at least, a “poem” — out of those raw materials.
All this may sound as if I intend my poems to be “analyzed” by the literati, perhaps using some form of higher criticism. Not so. I don’t mean for them to be “analyzed” (or even “understood”) by readers as much as EXPERIENCED by them — WHATEVER that experience may be, even boredom, confusion or disgust.
[NOTE: Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain — who also publishes under the name L.G. Corey — can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.]