Week 2: on context: “you agree that it is a fashionable grocery list”

Still! thinking about Williams…and this week’s topic of context is a perfect fit for this passage, tacked onto the end of Part II of “Book Two” of Paterson. In response to his interviewer claiming that certain passages from Paterson “sound just like a fashionable grocery list”, Williams responds: “It is a fashionable grocery list.”

Q: Well – is it poetry?

A: We poets have to talk in a language which is not English. It is the American idiom. Rhythmically it’s organized as a sample of the American idiom…If you say “2 partridges, 2 mallard ducks, a Dungeness crab”…it is, to my mind, poetry.

Q: …you agree that it is a fashionable grocery list.

A: Yes. Anything is good material for poetry. Anything. I’ve said it time and time again…In poetry, you’re listening to two things…you’re listening to the sense, the common sense of what it says. But it says more. That is the difficulty.

It’s as if you only need the ether of “poem”, you only need to “think poem”, and it is. Although I sound naieve even to my own ears, I can’t imagine it any other way – which is why I read the following letter at an event for a writer’s conference in fall 2006 – it was, after all a poetry reading – the venue itself, the attendees, girded whatever was read there and, I assumed, made it all “poem.” I received a handful of puzzled claps at the end.

Dear Owner. How do you do. I am a sudden letter and think whether it was surprised that it is also from I am sorry and Japan. I live in a place called Tokyo in Japan. If March 11 next year comes around, it will become 18 years old. Please hear it, although it becomes somewhat long. Thank you for your consideration. I finish the compulsory education in Japan, and 15 years old. I separated from the family, separated from Tokyo, went to a place called Hokkaido in Japan which is north most, and was allowed to study one season of work of a farmhouse immediately after graduating from a junior high school. One season is finished, and after greeting 16 year old, it is coming to Okinawa in the south in Japan now base and many living of an overseas man is also known, is a place called Okinawa known? The sea and empty are beautiful places to the extent that Japan cannot be thought, since it is a southern island. I am in an island called Izena of a detached building island. He wants to feel work of a tourist home corporally and to memorize it, and I have a talk heard and have you accept, furthermore it is the 2nd year by this year. When needed for doing work of the farmhous of two years ago, he does not think that it carried out in the interest half. He wanted whether a thing called a natural partner is serious however and to have experienced corporally and to carry out various discovery, and I had you accept.personally and which was performed by having a lot. This time, as soon as it is thought of wanting to progress in front to a slight degree, or already brings close to its target just for a moment and cooks, it is in the state which it began to think and has been accessed. I may be hard to be transmitted and think that it is thought that it does not understand what is considered. But I came by 120% of feeling all the time, and I am still passing enduringly in the feeling. It is earnest. Although it is just surprised at first, I am always earnest and think seriously. I think that one way is progressed and that is must study that it is various until it makes a goal. But he does not do the thing which being refused is used and into which it breaks. It is the situation busily passed by two persons with the mother of the tourist home here everyday now. It is the place which promised itself when the first step which has been decided to be two years, and which had been considered at 18 years old was carried out and became 17 years old at last. Although it is the same accomodations as the work there, in me, it is different. Don’t I have me looked after there? I think that I want you to inquire. Thinking earnestly, putting in concentration and investigating English, it searched, and I wrote hard and was allowed to send a letter. Although it is trouble, I think that he wants a reply. I who have separated from my home from 15 years old have the conditions not changing. It is a live lumpif it sees from parents, although it may be that there are worries in my having myself feel easy most, I consider inside. Since it does not go to work but I am allowed to study, I want to do anything hard. Please consider neither a salary nor such field. It is also saying from me. Unreasonableness does not say. If the letter was opened, I appreciate for it by it. Since English weak was faced, it is glad. Thank you for your consideration. It did not end for a long time. I am sorry. I am sorry at a sudden thing. Family composition—Mother, Father, Grandfather, an elder sister, and younger sister (They are three sisters.) Favorite food is a banana and thick milk. Disagreeable food is chocolate and legumes. Special ability is badminton. He likes moving the body.