Allen Grossman’s Voice Rings Out like Some Personified Father Time

G: “That’s certainly true.  The world that you describe, a world of selves shut out from the privilege of personhood, is indeed a feeling and accurate description of the sense of the self in this Postmodern moment.  My feeling is that the poet is summoned, rather like Horace’s rescuer, to bring selves into the bright circle of acknowledgement.  The poet has always found himself in a world of selves who have a destiny as persons; and the poet administers that destiny with what means he has.

IN the world in which we live, we see enormous evolution of the capacity to make images: in television, in photography, in the large images of the poster world, in the images of the film screen.  Internal to these images is the search for another form of visibility.  The subject matter of representation today is the search for an acknowledgement such as I have attempted to specify, in an abbreviated way, as personhood; and the vastness of this common culture of imaging confesses to its incapacity to bestow true presence.  If the poet has any function at the present time, it is to lay hold of this anxiety about true presence, which is his inherited obligation, and try to mediate a profounder, more gratifying, more magnanimous, more joyous sense of being toward persons in the world.  The poet has a role – because, from the time of Homer, it has been his or her business to make images meaningful.  The world person does not specify a static or isolated state of affairs, but a profound interaction, a drama always going on, of acknowledgement and presence.

– Grossman in conversation with Mark Halliday, in The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers, my italics

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