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principles of nupoetics

Principles of NuPoetics


-- Not mechanically, but methodologically


These principles are meant as  suggestions for a reader interested in the NuPoetics, and for a writer wanting to avail her/himself of NuPoetic compositional techniques.  They also describe  the theoretical and methodological basis of NuPoetics.  These principles are not meant to be strictly adhered to, but used to the degree that the reader and writer feel helpful.  


1.  The Principle of Forgetting

The Principle of Forgetting means writing a line having forgotten the previous line.  This principle is important in a number of ways.  It's an antidote to Intentionality and Self-consciousness.  It's also a way of letting the Unknown Source (the poetic line) show itself by making room for it in time.  The Principle of Forgetting is intended to keep the poet honest, i.e., if one doesn't remember the previous line, then one can't be influenced by it.  What follows from this is the Principle of Separation.  


2.  The Principle of Separation

The Principle of Separation means that as a result of methodological decisions, such as the Principle of Forgetting, lines are not necessarily connected to each other.  Nor are they necessarily disconnected from each other.  The relationship between lines is variable and depends on grammar, syntax, enjambment, the ambiguities of the English language, and mostly on the absence of punctuation.  So in a sense the poem is no more than a collection of separate lines, each one standing on its own, by itself, with its own existence, yet also connected or disconnected from the lines before and after.  This gives the poem a roomy, open, unpredictable, improvisational feel.  It gives the lines a chance to breath.


3.  The Principle of Connection/Disconnection

Because the lines are separate from each other, each line may be read semantically and grammatically as connected or disconnected to the line before and after it.  Because of this, how the poem is experienced and understood is different every time it's read.  The meaning of the poem is not fixed.  The reader constructs  the poem as it goes along.  This gives an excitement to the collection of  lines.  The poetic experience is in the unraveling and parsing of meaning in the poem as it goes along.  The important thing is to go along even when you have to go back.  


4.  The Principle of Unself-consciousness

Self-consciousness is the death of poetry.  By self-consciousness I mean the consciousness of how people will judge what you do.  It's a natural thing, but it leads to bad consequences:  sentimentality, posturing, faking, impressing, showing off, writing the poem for the sake of  the audience.  Here one is trapped into writing for others instead of for yourself.  Writing for others is really writing selfishly, for their praise.  Writing for yourself is really writing unselfishly -- for the others you may never know.


5.  The Principle of the Unknown Source

The Unknown Source is what lies behind the production of language.  It has no name, it produces names.  When you tap into the Unknown Source you're really cooking.  But you have to be careful, not every word that comes to mind is a product of the Unknown Source.  Many are products of one's self-consciousness, trying to write a poem.  Every poem we write we should write from the  Unknown Source.


6.  The Principle of Intentional Unintentionality

The issue here is how to be intentionally unintentional.  Unintentionality is important because it allows the poet to escape his or her self-interest, to write unself-consciously.  Also, Unintentionality permits the play of chance, which is a huge creative resource.  All NuPoetic techniques revolve  in some way about being unintentional.  


7.  The Principle of Authenticity

From the Unknown Source  words are produced that come with their authenticity confirmed.  These are the words you were waiting for, the only words that matter.  They are heard in the mind and have a quality about them that cannot be denied, about which one has no doubts.  They can come from anywhere at any time.  And depending on your whim, you write them down.


8.  The Principle of Chance and Choice  

When appropriating words  from other texts , or mishearing spoken language, or misreading or mistranslating written words, the Principle of Chance and Choice is important.  A purely mechanical method of writing poetry or prose, e.g., the cut-up method, is  one-sided, it permits no discrimination,  its use of words is no longer under  human control.  The poet has ceded his role to a scheme.  But it’s the human mind that makes meaning, and responds to what the text proposes.  Similarly, a purely intuitive, personal or descriptive approach to writing tempts one to indulge in all one’s worst, most sentimental impulses and cliches, and leaves one at the mercy of one’s desire to impress and please.  The Principle of Chance and Choice balances pure chance and pure intuition.  In NuPoetics, the act of writing consists of both intentionality   and unintentionalit.  The play of chance ("wherever my eye alights")  is the element of unintentionality, the act of choice  is the element of intentionality.  The two support each other.


9.  The Principle of Interest 

The Principle of Interest is a test of authenticity.  Interesting words strike the mind.  But not every word comes with "its authenticity confirmed."  If one doubts the authenticity of a line, one should examine it to see if it's  "interesting."  An interesting line is one which raises a question, has an unusual or suggestive formation, or resists interpretation.  Interest can be peculiar or plain, intellectual or emotional, rare or commonplace.  The Principle of Interest determines the selection of words in the play of choice and chance.  One can't predefine interest.  That would undermine the whole NuPoetic process.


10.  The Principle of Insistence and Resistance

Sometimes one must test a line as a way of testing oneself.  Being human, all-too-human, we sometimes mistake the fake for the authentic, the clever for the sincere, the banal for the beautiful.  In these cases we must be strict with ourselves and rigorously question and examine the basis for our acceptance or rejection of a line.  We must invoke here the Principle of Resistance and resist the enticement of the line.  It's better to say No to a good line and lose it, than to say Yes to a bad line and gain it.  (In fact, the more bad lines you don't write, the more good lines you'll write later.  It's kind of like casting your bread on the waters.)  Even so, sometimes a line is insistent and wants to be written, resists  resistance, overthrows resistance, and one finds that what made the line doubtful in the first place (its banality, its inappropriateness, its badness) is what makes it interesting...


11.  The Principle of Play

It shows and says.


12.  The Principle of Sincerity

It goes without saying.