Sunday, April 15, 2012

Poetry: In The Way It Is Written by Jill Chan

Something about not writing keeps me in touch with the desire to write.  As if the manner in which we stay confuses me into staying more.  As if now, without writing, we think about it less and less.  Pretty soon, we will have to release the things we write about.  The subjects are all shy, it seems, until you find worth in almost anything.  Kindness you haven't previously seen.

Even then, just to confuse yourself, you let words in often.  Now you are a poet because you could at last let poetry go for however it doesn't need you yet.

Sometimes you agree with yourself too much and it defies you.  Poetry cannot be in a house with you now.  You need it to be with you.

Poetry cannot wait in sequences.

And you cannot move forward, not yet—enough for poems to appear.

It used to come with intention. Now more often, it is leisure of the mind.  You don't need to find it lazy or adjectival—you just know you have to.

It is public in the instinctual sense. And with this, you are ready, as ready to breathe words into something else too wordy to come to you as thought.

The evening is clearing and you've written something.
Not poetry. Only words.

And language you use so much.  Not to affect anyone.

You realise too that no one may understand—and you care just enough.  You thank the people with your speech, their attributes with your silence—your shyness remains shy even in language.

And you are not trying to be different from anyone.  And some may consider it strange, pride misplaced.  How else can you arrive with it, but with it?  

When I think I've run out of poems to write, I forget everyone. There is a reason—then, there is not even that.  No reason to write. Why should there be one for poetry?  For writing poems.  It just comes like a breathing delayed then remembered for what it is.

Poetry doesn't have me. When I think I don't have it, it is there at once with held breath and foregone decisions.  Something to change like reason to further reason.  Like power to powerlessness—in a second that flies by without you.

All you are left with is a blank page and poetry that exchanges language with words then nothing after that.

If it is written down, you read it like a second occasion. A second inspiration.  It is finally not yours.  Only something that came from you.

And also not only from you.

Poetry has an origin.  You are not beginning nor anywhere it can end with.

Is it wisdom?  Yes.  Wisdom and knowledge taken together to forgive you with hope.

Wherever poetry enhances and where you falter, you calculate whatever cannot be confused. Where can you be?  And there is no success when you expect so much of here, and none of what's here.

Then you arrange then's and there's and forget time and place. You reiterate the possible like the sun. Then the moon heats up the night while the dark sustains and suspects—and you are the witness to this falling, this wherever turning and never compromising.

Sometimes, just before you give up, there you are with nothing you want. Thankful for thankfulness, the way you can still live on the strength given you.   How did you know luck when you seem excessively come upon like the dark which grows frantic with giving?

You want peace and war comes like peace for once.

For the one who courses into you lightly.

For the third twos who refuse like you are also there.

Anyway—a word to be disguised with everything.

Anyway—one compound word complex with vagueness.

Today, you hadn't thought of poetry until you wrote a few words. How is it with it?  Handle with care the attitude involved with going about your business.

You like to let poetry be.  Where it resides, you allow for nothing else. There is no suspicion in poetry—only what you can't be.

Here, poetry is eloquent along with your wisdom.

Can anybody take that away?

You write it down to remind you that where speaking allows, you cannot disavow.  And poetry is silence in the way it is written.


Jill Chan is a poet, fiction writer, and editor based in Auckland, New Zealand. Her poems and stories  have been published in MiPOesias, Blue Fifth Review, foam:e, Mascara Literary Review, Asia and Pacific Writers Network, Otoliths, Snorkel, Broadsheet, JAAM, Poetry New Zealand, Takahe, Deep South, Trout, Denver Syntax, The Tower Journal, A-Minor, The Camel Saloon, 52\250 A Year of Flash and other magazines. She is the author of The Art of It: Three Novellas (2011), and five books of poetry: On Love: a poem sequence (2011); Early Work: Poems 2000-2007 (2011); These Hands Are Not Ours (ESAW, 2009), winner of the Earl of Seacliff Poetry Prize; Becoming Someone Who Isn’t (ESAW, 2007); and The Smell of Oranges (ESAW, 2003).  She is one of the poets featured in the New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive. Official website:

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