Sparks of the Romantic
Jeffrey C. Robinson
On this website I am making a small gathering from my work, in poetry and prose, that indicates an anti-monumental approach to criticism, in response to what I find an anti-monumental Romanticism, that which is worthiest of carrying forward into our lives. In the fundamental avant-gardism that is Romanticism, the vision of poetry, in Emily Dickinson’s precise phrase, comes from an “unreportable place,” or in Wordsworth’s formulation, an “untrodden way.” Part of this avant-gardism works somewhere beyond the precincts of the actual Romantic poem, its form and its historical realization—somewhere between histories, between voices, intentions and poems themselves, and cannot, in the ordinary sense, be put to use: poetry, in George Bataille’s definition, is “sacred waste.” Here I concentrate a range of these weightless encounters with moments of Romanticism, written and published over the past fifteen years, with the hope that a countenance will reveal itself, that for the contemporary reader this might be an untrodden way beckoning one back to what is for me the momentousness of the phenomenon of Romantic poetry.
The material presented here, and throughout my books, consists of splicings of Romantic and more-or-less contemporary idioms, deformations and anagrams of Romantic poems, variations on elements in them, and lyric essays and diary entries on Romanticism—all sparks of the Romantic. One might think of this enterprise as a form of commentary, a kind of Midrashic exercise, that not only, in the modern sense, de-familiarizes a text as a gesture towards re-energizing it, and indicating a resistance to an ideology or prescriptive reading, but as an act that may restore poetry to a collective origin. Originally, I rationalized my splicings of Romantic with modern/contemporary poetries by arguing that the splice acknowledged a condition of my reading (one who reads both in Romantic poets and also in recent ones). Thus I thought of it as an idiosyncrasy. But quickly I began to imagine that there was something representative or synecdocal about the splice, a spark crossing many boundaries.
But why build a website on behalf of this weightlessness? The material included here (and other items to be added over time) has appeared primarily in five small-press publications and chapbooks; thus, while it has often been read by poets, it (unlike my scholarly writings) does not fall easily into the hands of the academic, particularly Romanticist, population. On my website you can get a foothold into my ongoing project. For you this may suffice, but you also can order one of the books!