Dean Young’s book, The Art of Recklessness is a wild, free-form, rollercoaster ride through the mind of one of America’s best surrealist poets. Part treatise on poetics, part mad rant, this book can’t be summed up, so instead I offer some of my favorite quotations:
Curse and blessing, disaster and celebration, that is where our poetry is, in the human pang. Discipline is only good for the dispensing of punishment. Art’s great obligation is to its own liberty, and by demonstration, the realization of ours. It is not an exercise any more than making love or dying can be practiced. (36)
Poetry is not efficient. If you want to learn how to cook a lobster, it’s probably best not to look to poetry. But if you want to see the word lobster in all its reactant oddity, its pied beauty, as if for the first time, go to poetry. And if you want to know what it’s like to be that lobster in the pot, that’s in poetry too. (41)
WE ARE MAKING BIRDS, NOT BIRDCAGES. (47)
I don’t believe in writer’s block, writing well is very easy; it’s writing horribly, the horrible work necessary to do to get to writing well, that is so difficult on may just not be willing to do it. (47-48)
Some things, like sewer pipes, we want to go only in one direction. But art that is at odds with itself, its own being, that contains seeds, signs, slashes of its own demise, embodies the conflict of what it is to be alive. (52)
The conscious mind can adopt the discoveries of the imagination and turn them into technical possibilities. But the imagination will not tolerate being known, mastered by the conscious for long, so it leapfrogs further, and in this way the poet gets more sophisticated at not knowing what he or she is doing. (90)
We are all reading by flashlight during a power outage caused by the storm we are in, the storm we make and are made of. What we write must be worth those last moments of the battery’s life to our reader.
This is just a small sample. I could go on and on (Young goes on and on).