braced to take in the full force

When I encounter a poem that engages the mind over the senses I really have to force myself to pay attention and work my way through it, even if it’s a brilliant piece of writing (and thinking). I need to feel a thing I’m reading to really become involved with it, and in that way I sometimes have the sense that others would consider me rather old-fashioned, or traditional, or, I don’t know, soft. That needing or wanting to “feel” is a kind of weakness in our post-post-modern era, or whatever this is. But it doesn’t feel soft to me. When I read, I’m braced to take in the full force of the mysteries of our existence. I want to be kicked in the gut, and when I write, that’s what I’m aiming to hit. Not the mind, not the heart: the gut. That doesn’t mean the mind and heart aren’t involved; they’re entwined, actually, rather than one or the other dominating. When I read something really powerful, the sensation is physical, like being bruised.

- Anita Lahey, in conversation with Susan Gillis on Susan's Concrete & River blog. You can read the whole thing here.

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