An excerpt from Jeffery Donaldson's Echo Soundings: essays on poetry and poetics appeared in The Puritan (issue 26).
Read the entire excerpt here: http://puritan-magazine.com/echo-soundings-notes-for-an-introduction-to-essays-on-poetry-poetics/
"I have no idea what poems are. I feel an odd
double-take when I see one on the page. The way it simply assumes
itself. How absurd, how extravagant. What is it doing there? Like a frog
on a lily pad, blinking. Like a child it stands before you—ready,
curious, expectant—without the least worry of what it means that it
should be. Of course I am, say the eyes of the child. What else would I be? The innocent audacity of simply existing.
Pick up a stick from the imagined beach you are now standing on, and
draw a circle with it in the sand. Now lay the stick down inside the
circle. What the heck is that? I can’t figure it out. I want to protest.
I want to laugh. The stick is just a stick; it existed before now, and
now there it is inside a circle. Before there was nothing, and now there
is a circle with a stick inside it, a shape and a content. Or take a
further step; pick up another stick and lay it down somewhere else on
the sand: all on its own, a shape and a content. You took a thing that
was over there and you put it over here in this new place, a place that
is new because a stick was put there. Poets spend their lifetime trying
to get it right just once, laying the stick down in the sand, just so."
The book can be pre-ordered here: http://www.palimpsestpress.ca/echo-soundings-essays-poetry-poetics-p-349.html