more than one thing happening at one time

The problem of emotion in poetry is twofold: 1) Direct statements of feeling, with notable exceptions, generally fail to elicit that feeling in the reader. People who talk about their feelings all the time are tedious and so are poems with similar inclinations. 2) Unalloyed emotions - pure grief, pure terror, pure joy - don't tend to be very interesting written down. They're pre-verbal, they activate primitive brain regions too far from our language centres. They either write white or purple. The most authentic and the most poignant emotions tend to be the mixed ones, and mixed feelings defy articulation because there's more than one thing happening at one time. Which is the same thing language does in a poem. So there's a kind of black magic involved in trying to write something that instills emotion in the reader. Shortcuts are always tempting, but they almost never get you where you want to be.


- Zachariah Wells, from his interview with Jesse Eckerlin entitled "Deep Time, Black Magic and Ugly Stuff", as published in Wells' Career Limiting Moves: Interviews, Rejoinders, Essays, Reviews. 

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