You May Say So Myself

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Ladies, there is no neutral position for us to assume.
* Gertrude Stein, Libretto for the opera The Mother Of Us All by Virgil Thomson (1947), from Last Operas and Plays (1949)

Poetry is I say essentially a vocabulary just as prose is essentially not. And what is the vocabulary of which poetry absolutely is. It is a vocabulary based on the noun as prose is essentially and determinately and vigorously not based on the noun. Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing with wanting with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun. It is doing that always doing that, doing that doing nothing but that. Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns. That is what poetry does, that is what poetry has to do no matter what kind of poetry it is. And there are a great many kinds of poetry. So that is poetry really loving the name of anything and that is not prose.

* Gertrude Stein, “Poetry and Grammar”

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