Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What is Poetrymind?

[Photo by Rosemary Rawcliffe of Frame of Mind films]

Officially Poetrymind’s a Decade Old

In the Spring of 2005 while co-directing the New England College MFA Program in Poetry, I considered starting my own blog. I still remember sitting bolt upright one night when the word poetrymind manifested as the title. I believe I first heard this word from Russell Edson--at NEC when he read. At one point he responded to a challenge from a faculty saying something like there is only one thing that matters and that is poetrymind. Edson was a magical and deeply ironic prose poet whose work I admire. His work epitomizes for me the simple notion that things are not what they seem. Thus, the phenomenal world is infused with magic and the mystery of discovery with ever fresh eyes.

 For me poetrymind is synonymous with “First Thought, Best Thought,” which is to say, thought that represents a state of mind free from conceptual overlays of judgment and second guessing. Rather it is elegant thought borne from pure perception, the original thought before attaching judgement. The slogan, "First Thought, Best Thought", coined by the late Chogyam Trungpa and Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics is not about writing without revision, as some believe. It is about experience first hand--direct and pure without a lot of egotistic filters or projections.

I am reminded of what the great Zen master, Susuki Roshi called “Beginner’s Mind” --- every moment offers a “fresh” experience. The ground is open vast mind or as Pema Chodron aptly puts it—The sky is open mind and everything else is the weather. Words are the display of poetrymind –alive with potentiality.  Words in this context can become a vehicle for discovery of who we are. 

See No Blood for Hubris on Russell Edson                                                  

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