Faculty Reads: The Absurd Man by Major Jackson


I found one. “The Body’s Uncontested Need
to Devour: An Explanation.” This poem is really, I wanted to write a
poem about the natural world and anytime I try to write a poem about anything I
sit down and try and write, nothing happens so it’s always a pleasant
surprise when something comes and you’re like oh
this is that and it was a curious like so I read about I cannot remember the
Japanese word but forest bathing there’s a word for it and my mind did this kind
of mental exercise of going into the forest and then suddenly sniffing spores
and sniffing moss and then I was thinking, ‘Oh what if this is a like an
actual kingdom and there’s someone down there, like some little people looking up at my
nose sniffing?’ and so the whimsy of that was like okay follow that through. The Body’s Uncontested Need to Devour: An Explanation.
I am bathing again burying my face into the great nations of moss I am leaning
in smelling the emerald mountains and the little inhabitants crossing over
rock-like boulders and tree trunks emptied bit by bit. My nose must come to
them like a probing spaceship causing a mighty eclipse. They speak in whispers
but do not shriek when gazing into the dim landing bays of my cavernous
thoughts. I am grazing like a dionysian. I come not with religion I come yearning
for first spring and a thirst for spores pooling like mercenaries in the dark. The little gods of the forest live here I want to ingest their verdant settlements until they carpet my cavities and convert my raptorial self
into its own ecosystem off into the green. So when I wrote that
first line ‘I am bathing again’ and I listen to it ‘I am bathing again burying
my face into the great nations of moss’ when I repeat ‘I am again’ it’s almost
like I’m cranking I am leaning in smelling the emerald mountains and the
little inhabitants crossing over rock like boulders. Sentences along with
repetition, sentences are a way for me to create music but also to kind of help
follow through on, on syntactic meaning. I’m also trying to be imagistic. I want
a reader to as much hear as much see as they hear what I’m saying. So imagery is
really really important to me and in this particular case I truly believe
that poems are not just merely about witnessing, bearing witness to events
that happened in our lives and trying to extract meaning there, I believe we can
be as imaginative as any speculative writer or, or as any fiction writer I
don’t believe all poems need to be nonfiction is what I’m trying to say and
so this particular poem contains a bit of truth. All of us hopefully want to
connect with at least in this day and age want to connect with live things
everywhere, plants, trees, rabbits, foxes. Ingesting natural spaces is a way for us
to kind of widen our humanity so that poem was fun to kind of think through. ‘I
want to ingest their verdant settlements until they carpet my cavities and
convert my raptorial self,’ thinking of dragons,
‘into its own ecosystem off into the green.’ I had fun writing that poem.

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