Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Related life forms from the Eukarya domain to which humans belong

Love, death, flora, fauna, self, mother, father, child, sister, brother, pleasure, etc., etc., We all have our themes and interests. We make distinctions. Certain things interest us, other do not. 'I am not interested in death, not even my own,' Colette famously said.

Editors also have preferences. Some have mission statements. The 21st century has not so far been a time for anything as grand as a manifesto, but there are mission statements and explicitly stated editorial policies about content. One from the American Poetry Journal states, "not interested in: poems about family members; poems about the poet; the poem; or writing a poem; or poems with an overabundant 'I.'" (Italics theirs.) Their mission does not interest me. I love, for instance, the big I-am of Whitman's "Song of Myself," and the first person voice of Bishop's "In the Waiting Room."

The idea of family--all kinds of families--fascinates me. According to scientist E.O. Wilson, writing in The Future of Life, biologists now divide life into three domains "on the basis of DNA sequences and cell structure." Humans belong to the Eukarya, a vast domain, which I like to think of as family. The Eukarya, includes "the single-celled protists or 'protozoans,' the fungi, and all of the animals." Plants, too.

Dear Readers, dear Eukarians: what fascinates you?


  1. I'm big on the 'I', Mim. I love the 'I' Mim. Most of us do, though not all would admit to it.

    A poem is far more than its content, more than the sum of its parts. To restrict it by abolishing some of those parts is to kill the poem.

    Thanks, for this Mim. It's thought provoking.

  2. It's good to hear your admission, Elisabeth. I'm banishing those restrictions from my mind.

    Be well! Write on!

  3. i am fascinated by...EO Wilson. i have his hugely lavish book, The Ants, which is one of my most precious possessions.
    i think it would be wonderful to be the person who knows everything there is to know about ants.


  4. Hmmm -- I am going to get E. O. Wilson's book -- The Future of Life -- it should be fascinating -- barbara

  5. Fascinating and dismaying, Barbara, yet he believes there's a way to prevent total eco-disaster.

    Susan: You've got his big book! E.O. loves the smallest things.

  6. One could make the argument that every poem is about the poet. All poetry is borne of the flesh, no matter how far the poet chooses/tries to disassociate from the poem. Just a thought.

  7. I love artist manifestoes, especially those early Modernist ones: the collectivism, idealism, & fervent belief in the transformative power of art. Reading them makes for an inspiring read when the energies are flagging, &, like you say, they have no contemporary equivalents.

    Contemporary mission statements?

    Most mission statements strike me as an attempt to create an identity for an organisation, & most have the same tepid expression as bland corporate brand creators. Not very inspiring, &, ultimately, sadly reductionist in spirit.

    The mission statement you reference would seem to be keen on poetry of an impersonal, mythic, or archetypal, nature, not favourable to poetry which could be deemed overly personal, or confessional.

    The 'don't mention the family' element strikes me as curious, & is probably a euphemism for an anti domesticity.

    For me, poetry exists before the word, & transcends verse. The poem's role is as a container for this existing essence. To say that 'this' is appropriate poetic subject but 'that' is not, is to fail to recognise poetry's omnipresence.

    Also, I agree with T. Clear:


    "Who says my poems are poems?
    My poems are not poems.
    When you can understand this,
    then we can begin to speak of poetry."
    - RYOKAN

    Thanks for the post, deffo something to chew over

    Best Wishes

    Miggy Angel