The introduction to Paul Auster: Collected Poems starts off with this beautiful quote written by a student of his work:
“How much credit should we give to coincidence? And if we refuse to give it credit, is a belief in determinism our only alternative? For many years now, Auster’s work has happily wandered between the poles of these beliefs, saved from the merely philosophical by the confidence, grace, and sly timing of the born storyteller. Auster has succeeded so brilliantly in giving life to this heady debate…”
- Norman Finkelstein
It sums up what most poets do, which is taking the heady conundrums of existence, the philosophical and the esoteric, and sizing it down to the everyday and universal. Good poetry and prose is revelatory for readers, it conveys deep truths about life that don’t necessarily come up outside of lecture halls. Paul Benjamin Auster, an American poet starting his writing career in the ‘70s, produces poetry that is beautifully abstract but simultaneously real in character and intent.
I’ve never loved poetry. It’s always been hard for me to understand, I’ll sit down and read verse 5 times and still not fully understand its meaning because of how it breaks the formal structure of prose. It floats in the unknown, and I have a hard time allowing things to float around in terse vagueness. You can hear that in my writing voice. I yearn for extreme specificity. There’s also this residual hyper-masculinity left in me from my more immature days, which creates somewhat of an aversion towards poetry, seeing it as something effeminate. For me, Auster wa