Casual Brevities

There is an unexplainable difficulty with writing short verse. More often than not, I tend to create long winded poems with elaborate details— rather than follow a terse format. In particular, for me, there is a difficulty with the process of generating tanka poems.

Salado, Texas

As of this week, after a little more than two years, I reached a milestone moment by finally completing three hundred and sixty-five verses, all of which loosely follow the general definition of this form. It was in June 2011 I began the project as a means of cataloging aspects of my writing, in a scattered fashion, to show the building process of larger works. This project intended to present itself as a daily experiment, a daily writing exercise. Unfortunately, frequently there were moments when a scuffle manifested, a confrontation between myself and the blank page. Even now, afterwards, I still struggle with rationalizing self-imposed hurdles and roadblocks associated with this genre of poetry.

Generally, I seek out the casual, fragmentary notions of the mundane for these poems: a forgotten cup of coffee on the desk, a torn page in a notebook, a dropped cigarette, my son’s sudden laugh from across the house. In the process, an ordinary event is celebrated and elevated to an extraordinary occasion. However, often what occurs, due to the use of obvious, commonplace images of everyday-living, a sense of intense, irritating repetition falls into place. The creation of personal clichés becomes apparent. The creation process in turn bogs down with the need to prove the relevancy of an average image within the poetic form and at the same time adhere to expectations and limitations of the syllable count. And then, likewise, in the act of seeking a specific commonplace event, I begin seeking an elaborate scene from a routine day, wanting to locate an outstanding moment with a loud, obvious epiphany—which of course is not the initial intention of the form.

Consequently, having reached the closing of a great clutch of tanka poems, the flow of posts will be reduced: a reshaping of emphasis towards other projects falls into place. With the apparent winter unfolding around Cypress, it is rather appropriate— allowing for a meditative series of days to find new forms to explore. One possibility lies in the prose form of flash fiction or hint fiction— those suggestive sentences of vignette scenes— yet, even fracturing these even more into smaller chunks of fragmented sentences, casual brevities. In this manner, a return to the original purpose will be achieved: the generation of a thoughtful moment, yet without an intense restriction to the end-product.


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