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RonPrice
11-20-2009, 08:45 AM
A CONTEXT FOR MY POETRY

There are writers who die to the world long before they are dead. I was one who died before my writing really got going. But I continued to live and to enjoy life, in some ways more than ever before. I have enjoyed a protracted life-in-death or death-in-life depending on just how one looks at these two variables. I hold no bitterness for the obscurity in which I exist for that is the lot of nearly everyone who exists and has existed on this earthly plane. I and my writing dwell in a limbo, not of the half-forgotten, but of the unknown, symbolic of the obscurity in which this Cause I have been assoicated with on the global stage since its beginnings in Iran in the mid-nineteenth century.

I often sing of the pleasingness of death. It is part of my literary-thematic career, it would seem, since I began writing seriously in the early 1980s. In the last 25 years too, say, 1984-2009, the years of this significant writing, this new Faith has come out of obscurity. In the last ten I, too, have to an extent come out of obscurity—at least on the internet.

Part of my fatigue with life, my death-wish, so to speak, comes from the residue of a bi-polar tendency/disorder; part of it from a sheer weariness with life after years of various kinds of battling; part of it from a simple interest in the afterlife and its attractiveness, as outlined in the Baha’i teachings; partly, too, from a personal conception of travelling-pioneering being equated with martyrdom. I do not have a literary reputation to uphold. I have tried to describe my experience as a human being, as a Baha’i, in the years before/during the Lesser Peace, in the third to the fifth epochs, when this Cause grew perhaps fifteen fold.

I am personally exhausted and worn out but, like the famous American writer Dorothy Parker’s dalliance with death, I shall probably continue on for many years to come. Who knows? Unlike Dorothy Parker, though, I do not hesitate to undergo a thorough self-examination. This examination fills my poetry. It seems to me that this introspectiveness is part of a lifetime, perhaps thirty years, of hard intellectual exploration within the context of what often seems a thimbleful of ability. I strive to look deep and, unlike another poet A.E. Houseman, I trust my examination in not just of the deeps of other souls but also my own. The roots of my poetry are, in the main, in contemporary reality and, for this reason, these poems are a commentary on the age, on my time, my life. People in the future, I hope, I pray, will be able to visit this world through my verse. May they find a skilful and confident guide who natters away to himself as a succession of thoughts tumble helter-skelter, it would seem, across his consciousness. I am occasionally proud of a particular poem and I am surprised by the sheer quantity of the output. Perhaps it is too early to be proud of my work as a whole, for I have been writing poetry seriously now for a little less than 20 years.

My writing is not especially witty; my life is not especially sad. In many ways I do not stand out from the ordinarily ordinary. I have enjoyed my life. I have suffered as we all do, each in their own way. This poetry is important since it comes from an overseas pioneer who has tried to tell of his experience and that of his community during some important decades of its development. There has been an expectation in the air all my life in the contact between this new world religion and the general society, some fifty years. In the field of architecture all of my dreams for this Faith have been realized. The public response in the West, though, has been discouragingly meagre; it has been meagre for a long time. This has saddened my heart, although I have come to accept it and understand its dynamics and I don’t feel as sad now. This growth seems to be on some divine timetable and its growth is, I have come to conclude, in the hands of Providence. It seems I have waited, waited all my life, though, within a context of high expectation. I believe the Old Testament prophets helped to keep a similar sense of expectation high in the middle centuries of the first millennium BC in the Jewish community.

Even the stoughtest supporters got discouraged in 1852 says Shoghi Effendi in The Dawnbreakers. I have often found this a helpful perspective, for I have got tired of it all. I say this in my poetry. I also talk of joy and, in nearly 7000 thousand poems, a great deal more. I capture, in some ways, more than a century and a half of Baha’i experience, the years between the Holy Years, 1952-1992, the first eighty years after the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan(1919-2009) and the last forty years of Canada’s glorious Mission overseas(1971-2011). This poetry is the sign of my passion, a conviction that has captured my life since the years of my teens in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But now, my enthusiasms have become quiet, in the quietness of a poem, in many poems.

This Canadian poet-critic or this Canadian-Australian hybrid critic, writer and poet, who has emerged in the last decade or so is something of a psychologist, something of a sociologist, something of a philosopher, something of a mythologist, besides having developed an awareness of the multiplicity of value and belief systems in this global society and an imagination that is both creative and receptive. This role is obviously an eclectic one. The outstanding Canadian critic George Woodcock sees the public critic is a man of taste, erudite in all areas. Thus, he must be responsible to many theories and not just to one; he must be able to recognize which theories are relevant and know how to apply them coherently, for Woodcock would have the public critic "see the work in total context.”

There is no way I could achieve such erudition; the field is simply too immense for anyone but the most accomplished of men. I do strive for that poet Ezra Pound's command to 'make it new.' The Canadian writer George Bowering echoes these words in: "the main quality of fresh art is the unusual and the death of art is the usual.” In this always new art, "the poet himself is a conductor of poetry;" he is brought into the active present tense, for "the mind is a shared circumstance;" and "one goes to the poet's expression not to appreciate his ability to reprint the world, but to know one's own creative possibility," to feel "one's own share of mind moving.” In this shared experience "the poet is one who is between the poem's source impression and its further journeying."

In this phenomenological poetic "the life of the spirit is made manifest in expression;" it is made flesh. The poem encloses others in the act of self-reflection to the extent, of course, that the reader is able to engage in and relate to its contents.

Ron Price
15 February 1997
to 19 November 2009
(1000 words)