Spontaneous Poetics – (Form Is Just An Extension of Content)

AG: ..In this case, the form is no more than an extension of content. Got that? Form is no more than an extension of the content? Does everybody understand that in this case? Does anybody not understand that. In this case, the form is no more than an extension of the..

Larry Fagin: I don’t understand that and I want a complete explanation. I’ve never understood it and I don’t believe you!

AG: You don’t understand it in this case?

Larry Fagin: No

Student: Oh, yeah

AG: I was talking about this case. I was talking about this here case here – [the poem,”Laughing Gas”] – when I woke up out of the dentist chair, in the middle of a thought, with the eye opening to perceive…

Larry Fagin: Is that the only case it applies to?

AG: I wasn’t talking about any other cases of anything. I just said, does everybody understand what I mean?, that “form is no more than an extension of content”, in this case..

Larry Fagin: I’m not arguing the point.

AG: And I’m arguing this point.

Larry Fagin: I see.

AG: Because if we can build one case…

Larry Fagin: (I’m still not clear) what you’re talking about.

AG: If we can get it on one case, we can get it on a lot more cases, but… get on the case!

Okay. In a larger sense, of course, (the) form is no more than an extension of the content.On account of.. because, as I’ve been explaining all along.. I’ve been arranging.. I’ve been trying to figure out ways of arranging the sequence of thoughts on the page in sequence as they arrive to the mind, or in some sequence as they would be mouthed, or in some sequence conditioned by the notebook size. So, in that sense, form is no more than an extension of content. And that phrase, for those who don’t know, which made all the brouhaha, is the famous phrase that (Robert Creeley) laid on (Charles) Olson, which Olson, the critic-poet, repeated in his famous essay, “Projective Verse”, which is basically talking about the field of the page and the field of the mind (what’s going in the field of the mind onto the field of the page). I don’t understand his entire essay, but I do understand, or I do like that one phrase as being useful…

(tape ends here)

addenda: (from 2003 – transcript of “Cross-Cultural Poetics”, a radio discussion with Leonard Schwartz)

LS: Many years ago you wrote that Form is never more than an extension of content
RC: (laughing) I was really young then, Leonard
LC:  All these years later, in your new book, If I Were Writing This, does that still seem true?

RC: Well, content is never more than an extension of form and form is never more than an extension of content. They sort of go together is the absolute point. It’s really hard to think of one without the other; in fact, I don’t think it’s possible. What I meant, whatever that means, is that what’s coming to be said.. It’s like William Carlos Williams‘ wonderful insistence, “How to get said what must be said…”, that need, that impulse, that demand is what I would call the content’s finding a form for its own realization, recognition, substantiation”.

One comment

  1. A poem is essentially a linguistic parole. Form allows it to be presented and consequently is an essential and necessary secondary component while content is its signification – the latter subject to as the entire poem itself and it’s subsidiary features are to whatever the reader brings to it.

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