. . . a poem as lovely as the one by me! (Apologies to Joyce Kilmer) I think all writers believe this of their literary babies. And, like any babies, poetry pups need basic training. Like don’t pee on the poetic form. Learn your boundaries-and then let go! I, too, have learned the difference between the carpet and the backyard, so here I go.
I’ve read and reread books of poetry and texts on writing poetry. I’ve been stunned by a poet’s ability to weave ordinary word-yarn into beauty that fits any mind. Many poets spin the most painful subjects into poignant pictures of human conditions and emotions. Others stitch fine metaphors from all of nature’s threads.
And while the intricate rules of poetry shapes it chameleon-like into many cousins, I find some forms fascinating but sterile. Some seem intent on mathematics of the thing, discouraging all but the most savant with their formulas. Many seem the Rubik’s cube of time long past.
Granted no society can live without rules. No discipline or function, be it science, mathematics, surgery, or driving a school bus, can accomplish its goals without a blueprint, a set of rules, policies and procedures. But is there necessarily beauty in regimentation? In following the party line, be it religious, political, or poetic?
Those who love such restrictions may not love my words. Yet I follow my spirit as it responds instinctively, intensely, to all things. I know I am here by chance. I am from the same star-stuff as is every great and minute creation on, and even far from, earth. So my work must be the same-random and free-not bound by laws of physics or archaic forms, unless, on occasion, the muse dictates otherwise.
And yet, while fish cannot mate with fowl, duck with dog, or moose with meadowlark some prose in sheep’s clothing hopes to fool the unsuspecting into believing it is poetry.
Prose, poetic or not, often squeezes the maudlin or mundane into a paragraph, dialogue included, as if the writer has just run into an acute paper shortage and decides to call a condensed memoir poetry, when it’s flash-fiction-at-best, and a rambling diary entry at worst.
Part of a poem I wrote in protest of this attempt to mate dissimilar species by virtue of similarities in their DNA, reads:
… i believe, too,
in loosening poetry’s reins;
but what cruelty
to sever them entirely,
shotgunning unfettered words
across the literary landscape,
to fall fallow in their field.
(From “Poetry?” by Virginia Nygard 2014)