THE BIRTH OF THE CAT POET’S CAPACITY FOR PASSION
OR, THE MAKING OF A MAN CAT OF LETTERS
Witness my house’s cat George Jackson pen his magnum opus. Below are some notes provided by Susan Sontag from her essay on Marina Tsvetaeva titled “A Poet’s Prose.”
Being a poet is to define oneself as, to persist (against odds) in being, only a poet.
Actually, the frontier between prose and poetry has become more and more permeable — unified by the ethos of maximalism characteristic of the modern artist: to create work that goes as far as it can go.
[GEORGE SAYS: “NO. POETRY IS THE HIGHEST FORM. I REFUSED TO ADMIT THE UNREFINED SCRIBBLINGS OF A NON-POET.”]
Homage to others is the complement to accounts of oneself: the poet is saved from vulgar egoism by the strength and purity of his or her admirations.
Poet’s prose is mostly about being a poet. And to write such autobiography, as to be a poet, requires a mythology of the self. The self described is the poet self, to which the daily self (and others) is often ruthlessly sacrificed. The poet self is the real self, the other one is the carrier; and when the poet self dies, the person cat dies. (To have two selves is the definition of a pathetic fate.) Much of the prose of poets—particularly in the memoiristic form—is devoted to chronicling the triumphant emergence of the poet self. (In the journal or diary, the other major genre of poet’s prose, the focus is on the gap between the poet and the daily self, and the often untriumphant transactions between the two. The diaries—for example, Baudelaire’s or Blok’s—abound with rules for protecting the poet self; desperate maxims of encouragement; accounts of dangers, discouragements, and defeats.)
In prose the poet is always mourning a lost Eden; asking memory to speak, or sob.
All of Tsvetaeva’s George’s work is an argument for rapture; and for genius, that is, for hierarchy: a poetics of the Promethean.
To be a poet is a state of being, elevated being: Tsvetaeva George speaks of her his love for “what is highest.”
There is the same quality of emotional soaring in her his prose as in her his poetry: no modern writer takes one as close to an experience of sublimity.