vera pavlova | heaven is not verbose: a notebook

20 06 2012

POETRY DISPATCH No. 376 | June 20, 2012


Heaven is Not Verbose: A Notebook

  • My writing: hard boiled. My life: scrambled soft.
  • An elderly poet called me “the most beautiful woman in the world” because he could not recall my name.
  • Mandelstam: “Poetry is the certainty of being right.” Brodsky: “Poetry is the school of uncertainty.” I am not certain about any assertion.
  • Poetry should be written the way adultery is committed: on the run, on the sly, during the time not accounted for. And then you come home, as if nothing ever happened.
  • Pick a piece of wood floating in the river and follow it down the current with your glance, keeping the eyes constantly on it, without getting ahead of the current. This is the way poetry should be read: at the pace of a line.
  • Went to bed with an unfinished poem in my mouth and could not kiss.
  • Inspiration: when I have confidence in myself.
  • –I will never use makeup as long as I live, and then at the funeral parlor they will put it on me
    –Not if you expressly forbid it in your will.
    –Why should I? Let them: for once in my life I will look pretty.
  • To write in spite of everything, even when generally speaking there is nothing to spite.
  • To help a poem hatch, I went to get some groceries. Paid the cashier, got my change, came home with a finished poem and no groceries.
  • How do I feel about people who do not understand my poetry? I understand them.
  • Being well-known means knowing almost nothing as to who knows you and what they might know about you.
  • Suddenly you realize that only what you have put into poems can be considered lived through. That is how you become a poet. And at that point you begin, consciously or otherwise, living the kind of life that is fraught with poetry. That is how you cease being human. The former happens abruptly, the latter gradually, both irrevocably.

[From: POETRY, April, 2012

Vera Pavlova was born in Moscow. She is the author of seventeen collections of poetry and five opera librettos. Her first collection in English is IF THERE IS SOMETHING TO DESIRE, Knopf, 2010]