Thursday, June 14, 2012

Singular Intensity - Concentrating All Her Gifts

Mark Doty described Lynda Hull's all-or-nothing approach to writing, and how this worked on him as an influnce: "She worked at her art with a singular intensity, and in each new poem she'd raise the stakes as high as she could, putting everything at risk, putting herself into her coruscating, elegant texts. So one had to live up to that, poems had to matter that much."

I am reminded of Richard Aldington's recollection walking through a graveyard with T. S. Eliot and discussing Thomas Gray's Elegy. Eliot remarked that "if a contemporary poet, conscious of his limitations as Gray evidently was, would concentrate all his gifts on one such poem he might achieve a similar success."

And I also think - with closer relevance - of Van Gogh's remarks about working furiously because the opportunities for work do not recur, and working quickly like an old lion who kills with a single blow of the paw, and his talk of the delight, and the troubles, cares and disappointments, and the times of helplessness, that go with the calling of an artist.

I remember reading some of Lynda Hull's poems in litmags towards the end of 1993 and being struck by them, the way whole worlds were created with rich detail, and the way deep feeling seemed part of the fabric of each line. I was thinking of writing to ask for some poems for a magazine I was editing, but procrastinated. Months went by and then by chance I heard that she had died.