Steve Kronen was born in Cleveland in 1953. His latest book,
Splendor, was published by BOA in 2006. His first book, Empirical Evidence was published
by the University of Georgia Press in 1992. He has received fellowships from the NEA, the
Sewanee Writers' Conference, Breadloaf, the Florida Arts Council, and received the Cecil
Hemley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. His poems have appeared in
Poetry, The New Republic, Ploughshares, APR, The Threepenny Review, The Georgia Review,
The American Scholar, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. He is a librarian at Miami Dade
College in Miami where he lives with his wife, novelist Ivonne Lamazares, and their
daughter Sophie. His website is www.stevekronen.com.
* * *
Statement of Poetics
now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time - I think I've forgotten this
poem, I suspect, works with the same sly mechanism as does a good joke - with a
sudden leap of logic that baffles and delights. It must do so by nimbleness: how did I, the reader, get from there to here? -
and by wisdom: yes, that is what it's like to be human. Both
- joke and poem - depend on precise timing and diction without which the whole enterprise
falls apart. (Though a joke loses all currency if it need be explained, a
good poem is not crippled by explanation, and is, perhaps, enhanced when, afterwards, its
tiny levers and fine sprockets are laid out for admiration.)
of the levers and sprockets I admire most in a good poem are meter and rhyme.
Because meter and rhyme are relative, contextual, a poem's latches and trip wires may be
sprung in surprising, though hidden ways, defying gravity and linearity. The reader,
even without knowing how or why, is dazzled or moved or transported.
do not know the time we lose
awful moment is
takes its fundamental place
firm appearance still inflates
card the chance the friend
spectre of solidities
substances are sand
subdued half rhymes, lose/place, is/certainties, inflates/solidities, friend/sand are but small chimes only half heard in
the back of the mind, perhaps re-minding
us, without our knowing it, of something we did not even know we had forgotten. And
Dickinson's hymn meter (the Yellow Rose of Texas
aside,) recalls to her devout 19th century audience (hardly any of whom had actually read
her poems) their own familiar church and God. It resonates still in our too-wise,
21st century collective memory.
of which explains Dickinson, who juggles half a dozen miracles at once: her diction,
her syntax, her assonance, her consonance, her metaphors, her amazing x-ray vision.
In a great poem (hers and others') the heap of its parts will never (a)mount to its
sum(mit), which is one small clue to its greatness. My poetics is to aspire to that
Parnassus. How do I get to Parnassus? Practice.
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