While reading the new Poets & Writers magazine, I came across an article by Ken Gordon occasioned by the March 2006 release of Edgar Allan Poe and the Juke-Box, a collection of previously unpublished work by Elizabeth Bishop (edited by Alice Quinn, poetry editor of The New Yorker). Gordon’s topic is the value of early, unfinished, or otherwise draft work—to the artist and to other people. Gordon doesn’t limit his thoughts to writers’ posthumous work. He also considers music (Coltrane), art (Michelangelo), and more.
Bishop died in 1979. One of her poems that I discover repeatedly as if for the first time is "One Art," a villanelle.
Here are a couple of the passages that I flagged in Ken Gordon’s article:
- "[I]sn’t failure as inevitable as criticism in a writer’s life? Even
great writers incorporate it into their daily routine: Wake up, write,
fail, eat breakfast, and try again."
- "There is wisdom in the draft, or in the notebook, that you can’t find in the finished product. Imperfect work isn’t—or isn’t necessarily—about beauty; it’s about truth. Art is both a process and a product."
Source note: Ken Gordon, "The Posthumous Pickle: Some Notes on the Rough Work of Genius," Poets & Writers 34, no. 5 (Sept./Oct. 2006): 35, 36.
Tech note: I have to learn how to make em dashes on the web. I
know the HTML code, but something does not appear to be working yet in
how I’m typing the characters. This is all new. Ah, maybe I have it. .