February 3

      by Campbell McGrath

C: Then what sort of consciousness does lyric poetry accommodate?
P: Is it mimetic?
R: Well, if it was “actual” consciousness we’d need to serve our brain up with the poem.
T: Or maybe we project it, re-create that consciousness within the reader, a mode of perceiving—can we situate the consciousness external to the text?
J: Like images—
T: That flashcard thing, the image going off in the reader’s head, the lightbulb thing.
J: But images are pretty easy—pretty clear-cut. I mean, there’s Molly, I see Molly, you know, sitting there—I see that image.
R: Is Molly an image?
Y: Or is Molly a thing, an entity, an object in the universe?
J: Well, yeah, she is—but I can see her, that’s my image.
R: So anything you see is an image?
S: I’m not sure I agree with John. . . .
M: I object to being appropriated like this. . . .
A: Objectified!
T: So, we see Molly, but maybe that’s just an ocular image not an image in a poetic sense.
C: Maybe her purple shirt is an image—“I see Molly in a shirt the color of the flowers we planted that were eaten by the snails.” That might be an image. Dahlias.
R: But that’s a story—you’ve attached a narrative to the image. It’s not just the purple, it’s the snails, things growing and being consumed.
S: That sounds like Bashō!
T: Typical. . . .
A: Can we get back to workshopping now, please?


From Seven Notebooks, New York: Ecco/HarperColllins, 2008, pages 28–29.