Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Reading thousands of poems: precepts on the hoof
As one does, one is drawn to reflect on certain things, such as:
1. People get lost in tangles of craft. When craft is art it disappears like the ground you are standing on.
2. Else turn the craft into a magic show, dance on the cracks in the pavement.
3. The Songs of Experience are worth nothing without The Songs of Innocence.
4. Never believe yourself at your gravest or most profound. The planets move on, the odd star occasionally giggling.
5. You can only have your heart warmed once, very lightly, after that the goddess thinks you're getting rather too matey.
6. Your voice is not your voice. It should come at you as from the far end of a wind tunnel so your hardly recognise it.
7. There's such a thing as being poked in the 'I'.
8. I'll just wait around while you describe things. Oops, where have you gone? I seem to have been walking for hours.
9. If your metaphors are any good hang around with them & see where they go, don't go tarting after the next.
10. Why do deathless bad lines refuse to die?
11. Yes you're nice, you're humane, you'd probably be a very good neighbour, but the poem is elsewhere. It's colder there.
12. Occasionally I long for what Joyce called "chune'. The importance of not being earnest, of prose not shuffling its feet.
13. Don't spell it out, let me guess. Especially if I have spelled it before you've finished spelling. Touch and move.
14. Is it a coincidence that the shorter the better in most cases? Certainly more concentrated, words cleaner, brighter.
15. You turn masochist. You wait for poems to slap you in the face. Hit me again, but not just yet.
16. Still being slapped around. Most of my face is gone, turning into a percussion instrument.
17. Some short poems are too short: most long poems are too long. The chief cuts should be at the beginning, then sharpen the end.
This is the end.