Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Orson Scott Card: "Letters"

(Okay, so I lied yesterday. Sue me. I'll make it up to you today.)

Although I think Card's a better novelist than a poet, since he's one of Mormonism's more widely known authors, I thought I'd link to a poem he's written about writing just to give you an idea of the variety of Mormon poetries out there: "Letters." I think it an interesting exploration of the way letters (may) work, though I find it somewhat inaccessible. I have to ask, Is he trying to say that letters are merely superficial beings (as it were), "crawl[ing] the surface" (line 30) of the brain like "fleas" (31), parasites that subsist on human memory, that take what they can get then move to other bodies?

Because I can't quite put my finger on what he's driving at (if anything), I'm finding it hard to formulate some coherent idea of what this poem does, other than "hop on [some mode of meaning] and off again" (31) as the poet tries to work in his (overwritten?) conclusion, four lines that essentially say, "What I know, I know; and you can't teach me anything more than what I already know, than what has been passed on to me through cultural genetics." So why try? Why communicate, why string letters together if the "public memory [is merely] talking to itself" (36) in some schizoid gesture of solidarity and communion?

Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that rhetoric really turned me off.

What do you, my faithful and astute readers think?

(Other Card poems can be found simply by scrolling down on the page I've linked to.)