DOCUMENT

5 INTRODUCTION Blanchfield observes. Taking what has sometimes been seen as a problem – that poetry is mostly read only by other poets – Blanchfield points out that this suggests the act of reading poetry turns readers into poets and this is something we could celebrate. This is true, in a way, even when the reader doesn’t go on to write their own poetry – to read poetry is to participate in the re-creation of the poem, its pattern of thought, its sensibility, its pacing, its tone. In poetry, more than in any other genre, Blanchfield writes, ‘the sensations of reading are charged with the creative feeling of writing, and vice versa’. If reading poetry is to become, in a sense, a poet, to go on and write new poetry can further transform our sense of the world around us, as well as our sense of self. I love the 2016 Jim Jarmusch film Paterson for its depiction of a poetry-writing bus driver who spends his days running lines of poetry through his head as he drives. His name, Paterson, and the town he lives in, pay homage to the poet William Carlos Williams, better known for his short, snapshot-like poems such as ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ than for the book-length Paterson . The town as filmed by Jarmusch is full of the sorts of details that could belong in the poetry of Williams: the camera finds beauty in run-down buildings, small patches of decay, sunlight falling on streetscapes, people sitting on benches, suburban gardens and night rain. Paterson the character shows no interest himself in publishing his poetry, and while the poems we see him write (written for the film by poet Ron Padgett) are likeable enough he is not meant, I think, to be understood as an unrecognised genius, an Emily Dickinson figure. Yet like Dickinson, and like Williams, Paterson has an inner life lit up with aesthetic interest in the world’s details. The title of this book, Actions & Travels , comes from the descrip- tion of poetry given by the Canadian poet Anne Carson in a Paris Review interview: ‘I think a poem, when it works, is an action of the mind captured on a page, and the reader, when he engages it, has to

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