[NOTE. Aridjis of course is a major Mexican poet & environmental activist, & his close account of the current border refugee crisis calls further attention to the longer & more difficult part of the journey that the refugees have undertaken. It seems to me important to see what has been happening in a context other than its relation to domestic United States politics or its coverage by the entertainment news media that so much dominates our political & social thinking & reporting. Homero’s account appeared first in The Huffington Post (07/08/2014), from which it is respectfully borrowed. I see it here also as a part of his & our total poetics: a continuation of the work of poetry by other means. (J.R.)]
[The following dialogue or auto-conversation was salvaged from Schwerner’s notebooks by Mark Weiss & previously unpublished. The most recent version of The Tablets, mentioned throughout this commentary, was published by the National Poetry Foundation, Orono, Maine, in 1999 – a necessary modern/postmodern work & still readily available.]
December 14, 1991
S.A.: You mirror me. A.S.: You humor me. S.A.: Inside this glass case there's an ancient Chinese mirror.
The southern New Critics bequeathed to generations of American English students a reductive but serviceable distillation of poetics into versification, fickly defining prosody as according to an obviously conservative set of lyric values. But “the new criticism” was a phrase coined by Joel Spingarn, whose impressionistic depiction of poetry carried little of the taxonomic and finally deadening thrust of “close reading.” Close reading had to do with hearing (the inner voice) and looked at a page only closely enough to take a strictly alphabetic set of cues. This kind of inspection could be quickly learned and reading poetry thereby could be easily tested.
[NOTE. The following commentary was written to accompany a series of poems commisioned & prepared for "Trans-Poetic Exchange: A Colloquium on Haroldo de Campos and Octavio Paz's poem ‘Blanco’” at Stanford University, January 29-30, 2010.