Chad Davidson
July 2008

 

Chad DavidsonChad Davidson is the author of Consolation Miracle (Southern Illinois UP, 2003), winner of the Crab Orchard Prize in Poetry. His second book, The Last Predicta, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois in October, 2008. He has work forthcoming or recently appearing in DoubleTake, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, and others. He teaches literature and creative writing at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta.  

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Bigfoot Poetics

I believe it’s out there, some definition of my poetics, lurking in some pine-infested corner of the Pacific Northwest, harboring its enormous secrets in a cirque of the Himalayans. It’s powerful, transcendent, elusive, and—most likely—smells bad.

Whatever my poetics are, they change constantly, elude me when I’m close to a sighting. When I studied with B. H. Fairchild, I fell in love with local restorations, summoning from the local the mythic, the memorable. “Bodying forth” experience, he used to say—or at least I remember his saying something to that effect—was the poet’s craft. I began my apprenticeship rooted in the  material realities of experience.

When I studied with Bruce Bond, my poems became tighter, more compressed. They were nuclear, or so it seemed to me after Bond whittled down my poems to pseudo-haiku. At that time I would have said something like “poetics of violent erasure,” as Bond taught me the value of close inspection of experience both without and within the page.

Working with John Poch, I began to trust myself more, take more risks, become less conscious of the moves I made within poems. My first collection and most of my second revolve around greater linguistic experimentation, greater freedoms in terms of logical cohesion. Let’s call that a “poetics of linguistic optimism.” I wrote a lot and discarded more.

Since then, in my constant dialogue with Greg Fraser, my poems have become more careful, tending less toward difficult leaps of logic and more toward precision of imagery and contextual considerations of history and trauma. Seems I’ve constantly been in restless shuttling between Fairchild’s expansiveness and Bond’s careful lyric machinery, in chasing a poetics that appears constantly out of reach. Let’s call it, “Bigfoot Poetics,” the sort of poetics as comfortable among the supper talk of cryptozoologists as it is among the pages of supermarket tabloids.

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