poetry & prose

“A friend tells me: ‘Any plan to alternate poems with prose is suicide, because poems demand an attitude, a concentration, even an alienation completely different from the mental attunement required for prose, so your readers will have to be switching voltage every other page and that’s how you burn out lightbulbs.’

Could be, but I carry on stubbornly convinced that poetry and prose reciprocally empower each other and that alternating readings won’t do any harm. In my friend’s point of view I detect once again that seriousness that tries to place poetry on a privileged pedestal, which is why most contemporary readers can’t get far enough away from poetry in verse, without on the other hand rejecting what reaches them in novels and stories and songs and movies and plays, a fact which suggest a) that poetry has lost none of its deep power but that b) the formal aristocracy of poetry in verse (and above all the way poets and publishers package and present it) provokes resistance and even rejection on the part of many readers otherwise as sensitive as anyone else to poetry. . . .”

(Julio Cortázar, from Save Twilight: Selected Poems, trans. Stephen Kessler, p. 25.)

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