Michael Gottlieb / Letters to a Middle-Aged Poet / 9


Do the dangers of repeating oneself include more than just reusing themes or styles, line-breaks or indentations?

Didn’t I use that word before, in 1979 or 1986, in 2003? But – how do I check, without rereading everything all over again?

I mean individual words. And, not words like ‘like’ but like ‘suppurating’ or ‘decorticating’ …the sort of words which, because of the weight which they are asked to bear, or perhaps because of the weight which you, which I, which we – as poets, have chosen to pile upon their shoulders, if one ends up using them over and over, or even more than once, one ends up looking like…. what? Foolish? Inattentive? Ineffectually, impotently repetitive? Why else would you repeat yourself unless you had nothing new to say?

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