Donald Wellman

poet, editor, translator

Statement on practice

May 10, 2017 by Posted in: Uncategorized

My poetics stem from early studies of the works of Ezra Pound and Charles Olson. Before that I had concentrated on Anglo-Saxon and other archaic texts. I was spellbound by lyric poetry, especially in German, sometimes in French, as well as in English. I have taught “modernism” in the arts as well as in literature. I have been identified as a modernist in my own style. That style is imbued by pre-conscious emotions that surface during the act of composition. My grasp of imagery, as is the case with some painters, is haptic and even eidetic. Highly expressivist figures from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to Francis Bacon lurk there. Textures awaken deep sensibilities. The visual grasp is seemingly complete and sure in an instant, as opposed to studied. This mode of engagement with the strange and the beautiful is processural and indeed rhizomatic. I place desires that originate with perception ahead of verbalized conceptions. The philosophy of Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari corresponds in multiple ways with what I intimate here. Earlier I had sought an American pragmatism, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James were my guides. Inevitably Thoreau kindled my sense of soul and nature and its beauty. I sought withdrawn and liminal spaces where my thinking and feeling were open to transformation. The primary refuge was an island off the coast of Maine. The effects of that love of nature remain visible on my pages. I think of my long poems as histories of such liminality and the transformations that have shaped my life. Much of my poetry employs narrative series, characterized by disjunctive gaps and overlays where the weaving of dissimilar strands is evident. Interleaved and episodic with emblematic lyrical clusters might be attributes of this method. It is a highly allusive method rich in its array of citations to works that have engaged me in the several languages that I read. Reading across languages and writing across languages catch me in preverbal webs that engage a mind seeking words for percepts and feelings. A proclivity for the careful and difficult work of translation follows and supports my poetics of translation. Poetry is a matter of verbalization where words or phrasings are entirely inadequate to the felt purpose, but yet the text bears traces of a pulse that ears and tongues and even fingers potentially share.


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