THE CHRONOTOPE || Yvette Siegert on poetry + translation

Spring planting, camphor, Ashbery

Posted in Literature, Poetry, Spring by Yvette Siegert on Saturday, 2 April 2011

I haven’t posted in nearly a year. Maybe now I can.

Starting with a quote makes it easier:


Or, to take another example: last month
I vowed to write more. What is writing?
Well, in my case, it’s getting down on paper
Not thoughts, exactly, but ideas, maybe:
Ideas about thoughts. Thoughts is too grand a word.
Ideas is better, though not precisely what I mean.
Someday I’ll explain. Not today though.

–John Ashbery, second stanza of “Ode to Bill,” in Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Penguin: 1972).

N.B. A quote from Ashbery is easier than a quote from the other book on my desk, which happens to be Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment.


So, this is not writing. (No paper here.) Maybe not even a precursor to writing. (There is a cursor.) Although, then, maybe it is a convex precursor—to the impulse of going out to buy scallops and spring plants, to carrying thoughts out into the sunlight, as if thoughts were linens that had been stored for winter.