Wednesday, January 25, 2006

On the Craft of Poetry - Dougie MacLean for Anthony Robinson - Poetica Xicanerati

This bit of Chicano poetics from Dougie MacLean's introduction to "The Scythe Song" on his "LIVE" CD for would be Chicano poet, Anthony Robinson who asked me a while back to define "craft" in poetry.

"I come from a very, kind of, rural background and, uh, this song came from watching my father when I was little boy working with a scythe. I used to be fascinated at this sort of beautiful motion of it all and, uh, it's just got this lovely sort of noise, with this sort of "whoosh," you know? And then the grass 'was go "ffffT!" Like that. [laughs] "Whiiisssh!" "FfffT!" And he'd leave it in this kind of beautiful lane behind him, you know? All the grass the same kind of, lined up the same kind of way, you know? And sometimes he'd give me a wee shot at it and I would take the scythe and it, it would be like wrestling with this kind of wild animal, you know? And, uh, the point of the scythe, I'd stick it in the ground or get, hit a stone or something. I would be, like, you know, just sweatin'. And he 'd be going: "No, no, Baby". And he'd take the scythe back from me. And, and he'd be, "Whiiisssh!" "FfffT!" You know? "Whiiisssh!" "FfffT!" And I'd be going, 'HOW DO YOU DO THAT?' You know? Well, eventually I learned how to work the scythe, and it took me years and years and years. It's one of them things that you just can't learn [snaps fingers] immediately, like that. You can't go out and buy the video, "Scythe In A Day." You know? [audience laughs] It just doesn't work like that. And it's, it's like a lot of the old kind of skills and trades, like the old woodworking skills, old stone, eh, mason trades. There's almost a magical sort of element to the knowledge that you can't actually even be taught. And the only way that you learn it is by actually being in the company who's a master and somehow, magically [laughs] the knowledge gets transferred. And I thought that was a wee bit like life as well."

O, wild are the ways we run
when at last, untethered,
out we fly
(. . .)
Need no direction,
No, not I!

But it is not a thing
to learn inside a day

(. . .)
You've got to hold it right
Feel the distance to the sound
Move with a touch so light
Until its rhythm you have found,

then you'll know
what I know (. . .)

Well, 'tis not a thing
to learn inside a day.

~ Dougie MacLean
from "Scythe Song"
copyright Dunkeld Records
"sin cera" = without wax
To read a new interview with Dougie MacLean click here.
To hear my favorite, "Caledonia," & other Dougie MacLean songs visit me at My Space and click on Dougie link on my Friend's list.


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