On my new favorite website, Patrol Magazine, I stumbled upon this amazing interview with poet and professor of Creative Writing at State University of New York, Joe Weil. He talk to Patrol magazine about poetry, his relationship with God, art, and his other variosu thoughts on life. As I’ve read the article, I keep finding more and mroe quotes that I am throwing all over my facebook profile, blogs, and such. Well, it got to be so many, I’m just going to put them all here. This man is amazing, and I intend to buy as many of his books of poetry as I can. I resonate so much with all that he says. Please read the entire interview if you can. Finally, also bookmark Patrol Magazine. It really is incredible. Here are my favorite highlights:
Art is self-indulgence that, if done well, with a good grasp of the craft, and with a sense of constructive dread, ends up serving others. Of course, you can’t predict how it will serve them. . . A poet must be faithful to his or her obsessions. . . The wrong kind of self indulgence is that which puts the artist or his cause ahead of the work. Poets must be both supremely arrogant and humble. Arrogant enough to commit an act of creation. Humble enough to get out of the way of their own work, and let it be whatever it really is.
I once described faith as something I got on my shoe and can’t kick or wash off. I’m stuck with it. My poems are the trespasses and blasphemies of a malpracticing Christian, one who can’t stop ogling an attractive leg, or wanting to be first, who is venial, foolish, seldom at peace, horny and lonely, and so far from the kingdom of God that his whole life becomes the theme of that distance, someone knowing he is in deep shit. It’s the perfect place to be, where you can’t fool yourself into thinking you’re on the right track
I love God, not the idea of God. I hate the idea of God. Ideas are pretty, and neat, and well-formed, and my poems insist that I love God only by my pratfalls and mistakes. The only thing I have to offer God is my sins. I am interested in mercy when it appears in places where you would never expect it. I am interested in love that shovels shit against the tide. I am interested in grace.
I am wrestling with God because I consider God a worthy opponent. . . We have to remember God has the gravitas. God is the dignity. We’re the comic relief. Piety must be challenged. Purity must be tested, or it becomes smugness, and we start to think we have it all figured out. It’s like a marriage where you know exactly how the weekly sex is going to start. It both comforts and kills love in the worst way. My faith informs my confusions. My confusions lead to discoveries in poems my certainties could never find. Faith is not certainty. Certainty is the death of thought.
It is better to be annihilated and crushed by God, if you are in love with God, then it is to have no relationship at all. Better God smite you then merely be absent. God does not “tolerate” me. God loves me. . . A man may call God out and test all purity because it is better than the ultimate hell of complete disengagement.
God allows us to kick and scream in our tantrums and pains until we fall exhausted at the foot of our cross. And then God picks us up and we realize this was all we wanted to begin with, to be held by, and bound fast to him: “Bind me Lord, lest I resist. We resist because we are bound. Our resistance becomes the first sign of our birth pain. . . The peace of a Christian must be a sort of ongoing ferocity—a refusal to let go until the birthright has been truly won, until the blessing has been given. Brokeness is the first condition for receiving grace. Light can’t penetrate an unbroken surface. God enters through the broken heart, not the smug one.
A poem that can be reduced to its ideas is probably not a very good poem. It must be uttered fully. It must be lived on its own terms, the language must be forgiven for being language, then it must be language with all its might. Meaning, content are not the aim but the reward, the grace of a poem being faithful to its own organic process.
Thank you for reading all this (if you have) and I hope it has benefited you.