≡ Menu

What it Means to be Contrary

Contrary N“Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and recombine and fabricate and juggle until something that I have never experienced is experienced. The process is alchemical. The process is violent. It goes to the heart of creativity. It disrupts and shatters. It is splendid with provocation. It is an aggression against banality. It is sharp and loud like a janitor scraping frost from a window. The hectic bounce of steam on a street after a truck roars by. The anarchy of waters, the comedy of the face, dangerous feelings vented from a cage of skin….”

“There is a misconception that those who choose to experiment do so out of a childish need to avoid rules. This is absurd. It is the reverse. This assumption is an alibi for those who lack the nerve to experiment. They simply want to polish whatever is familiar within their sphere. The truth is experimentation requires a heightened appreciation of the rules.”

From John Olson’s “Brought to a Boil: An Essay on Experimental Poetry.”