Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

moment.05 || revisions

Re-worked the “Litany” poem once again. In a few stanzas where a connecting bridge was missing, I built a stronger transition between the different concepts—sometimes only a simple, additional word sufficed—I realize now the issue in the poem was not necessarily the lack of transitions between images, but rather a discord in the rhythm … at this stage it is hard to pin-point how the changes improved the verse for me.

The opening stanzas now read:
—as a collection of stones
gathered across my desktop,
or handfuls of rock pulled

from swollen creek beds,
rocks which I tumbled smooth
from overuse, the personal clichés,

raw, repetitious spheres lined in a row
beside my typewriter, spreading out—
as my habitual tarot deck

Likewise, the ending stanzas shifted slightly, moving closer to fragmented sentences:

The words lift away from me,
fireflies in august twilight,
glorious abstractions growing smaller,

falling in the distance, until I close
the blinds. Move away from the page.
And prepare myself for sleep.

I closed the poem with intentional fragments—these work well in poetry because they reinforce the verse’s imagery as the main focus, rather than plot development. Sensory elements are crucial for a poem to function and capture the poet’s sense of a moment. Richard Wright does this in the haikus he composed while living in Europe, after he went into self-exile from America. Within a collection of his poetry, titled Haiku: This Other World, one of my favorites is number 367, which illustrates my point:

     An old blindman
Playing a black violin
     Amid falling leaves.

The line breaks and the fragmentation of the grammar together generate a short series of visuals, each new image changing the conditions of the moment described. This results in heightened sense of reality, the reader becoming a part of the scene as Wright experienced the epiphany moment himself.

For me, likewise, fragments tend to offer stronger closure in poetry. The end stops and dashes provide a firmer sense of slowing down from the mad rush of the full poem itself. A process which gently applies the brakes before allowing the car to fully enter the garage for the night.

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