leaping junk to junk

How do these seemingly disparate elements weld together? What makes this part or that fit where they do? How does a steel beam fit into its place in David Smith’s sculpture? How do images, and memories they engender, fit into our histories? In his “Conversation about Dante,” Osip Mandelstam notes, “One has to run across the whole width of the river, jammed with mobile Chinese junks sailing in various directions. This is how the meaning of poetic speech is created. Its route cannot be reconstructed by interrogating the boatmen: they will not tell how and why we were leaping from junk to junk.” These mysterious instabilities of making then coalesce into a poem, into this poem.

—James McCorkle, ”The Making of a Poem,” Poems and Their Making: A Conversation (Etruscan Press, 2015), moderated by Philip Brady.

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