“Lyric as a Form of Listening” by Lynn Xu
The question I want to ask is: Can we write lyric poetry today? I mean, if we are doing it, what does it mean that we are still doing it? What is our relationship to the history of the lyric and, in turn, to the western canon where it is most valued? Louis Zukofsky said that lyric poetry has its lower limit in speech and upper limit in song. It is this restlessness between speech and song that activates our imagination and becomes instructive for our being in the world. Another way to ask the question is: Can we conceive of the lyric as a form of listening? How to create spaces where we can hear ourselves, each other, things both organic and inorganic, within the myriad of voices we have learned from and continue to live with? How does the lyric construct “active boundaries” (to borrow a phrase from Michael Palmer) and push restlessness to its cultural exponent?