IDEAS FOR POETRY
Volume 12 Number 1
Ideas for Poetry is a collection of prose statements by a respected McGill University professor and poet.
The title is misleading. It is certainly not a writer's manual, nor is it an insight into Louis Dudek's craft. It is a sprinkling of prose generalizations on a variety of topics. Dudek refers to fiction writers, musicians, artists, and magicians as often as poets. And even then, the emphasis is much less on the arts than on scholarship, science, religion, politics and, most significantly, the private individual's perceptions of the natural world.
Dudek is partial to aphorisms. These are most enjoyable when he combines his natural tartness with wit, as with, "In proportion as man becomes confident that he knows reality the reality he knows becomes trivial." In an original observation on "Credulity," Dudek states, "The characteristic of man is not rationality but the ability to entertain the most extravagant notions and to live according to them." A comment on "The Gods" is well expressed: "Gods are metaphors. The feared tyrant became a monster god; gradually he became a benevolent god, as rulers improved. We should now look for new metaphors."
Dudek often sets himself at odds with Canadian literary life, as when he maintains, "If you take up any important subject at a gathering of literary people no serious or extended discussion is possible." He scoffs at awards and popularity as "mere noise"; he notes that publication through established presses is vanity, while self-publication is a humbler art.
Dudek makes some heartening observations on the future of human beings, pointing to inspirational examples that foreshadow a better type, prophesying the freeing of the mind from political enslavement in the Marxist nations and from enslavement to commerce in North America.
Dudek has some profound reflections on nature, on culture, and the role of the imagination. These should have lasting value.
Generally, the selections are glimpses into an original mind. The publisher's design seems heavy-handed with its misleading title, high gloss cover, eighty-eight page large format when most of the selections are less than half a page in length and several are considerably less. This is a modest little book and should have its value as such.
Tony Cosier, Confederation H. S., Nepean, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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