5th July 2012
Link reblogged from A Poet Reflects with 36 notes
“The process of writing involves looking. And looking is seeking—some other reality from which we are starting. Driven to sit at a table and write—what is one subjecting oneself to? I believe we have an innate skill in us, a strange knowledge, an intuition. In what we feel before a perception. In what we sense in beauty, in the sublime. I am trying to detect it, to learn about it and from it, and I will take my lessons from anywhere.
The writings of the mystics have provided to me a way to look at the world, and a way to write. I have been drawn to the various traditions of divine writings, to the principles of monastic practice—not because I wanted to follow any particular religious tenets—but because these writers subject themselves to a practice that led them to become masters of discernment. The divine writings map the process of the self manifesting some other consciousness. The Cloud of Unknowing, for example, reveals the intimacies in which a soul, a consciousness, moves and works—even if it can’t quite articulate what that is. And what is essential about these texts is the way in which the reader becomes privy to the pure experience of seeking, rather than mere arguments about theology or God, as with the anonymous speaker inThe Cloud of Unknowing:
And therefore I would leave all that thing that I can think, and choose to my love that thing that I cannot think … And therefore, although it be good sometime to think … nevertheless yet in this work it shall be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And thou shalt step above it stalwartly, but listly, with a devout and pleasing stirring of love, and try to pierce that darkness above thee. And smite upon that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love …
In college, and even before, as I began to follow the impulse to write poems, these experiences of the mystics translated easily for me into the work of the poet. I read these texts as a kind of comparative literature of the soul. The “work” is the same work for the mystic, the poet, and the artist in his attempt to pass through the necessary stages in the manifestation of his art.”
—Doreen Gildroy, from “Poetry and Mysticism” in The American Poetry Review (v.38 no.2, March/April 2009)