The anatomy of a poem can be attributed to a variety of sources and structures. Several weeks ago, I was caught by the phrase, we walk to a public house, and after three or four reinventions, the end results were a satisfying though unexpected poem (see the completed poem below).
In an oddly creative, and probably iconoclastic, fashion I usually do not relish to explain the end results of a poem, that is, the poetic body which eventually becomes alive in the world, rather I prefer to discuss its skeleton. My recent preferences/influences for personal poetic structural styles, the skeleton, fluctuates between post-modern American poetry, mid-century American poetry, and Latin American/Spanish magical realism. The poetic styles or bones can frequently incorporate symbolic and ambiguous features as well. In other words, I believe, as others do, in an open-endedness which allows the viewer or reader or experiencer, of an artistic endeavor, to become the final arbiter of its artistic value.
More about the skeleton: 1) Post-modern poetry usually means a non-traditional approach to contemporary poetry. Donald Allen’s influential anthology(s) New American Poetry 1945-1960 (1960) is a good example. I use post-modern techniques of disjointed or discontinuous narrative flow and a non-traditional use of punctuation and visual presentation. 2) Mid-century poetry refers to contemporary American poetry from 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, & 1970s with its emphasis on traditional poetical content/value and rich imagery; typically, a poetry comprised of a free verse or a lack of rhythmic pattern. Robert Bly’s anthology entitled News of the Universe (1980) includes numerous excellent examples. I use prose poetry and/or short fiction influences because of Mid-century poetic stimuli. 3) Magic realism in poetry from Spain & Latin American is the compelling blending of magical & realistic content. A comprehensive anthology of the work of Juan Ramón Jiménez (d-1958) or Pablo Neruda (d-1973), both recipients of Nobel Prizes in literature, would provide a good introduction.
A final note, in recent years, I normally utilized pronouns instead of actual names and I tend not to title a poem, again to provide a more open-ended exposition. The reader can fill in the blanks.
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we are not lost, yet somehow though, we arrive to an unaccustomed place, perhaps north of the towns .. an ambiguous soundtrack swells in the background .. we notice extra people on the street, they seem buoyant .. we walk to a public house, a common establishment .. an uncertain lighting surrounds us which is similar to that of the provisional illumination frequently seen at recital halls before a much-anticipated performance .. the public house has doors, that we have found our way to, which are a transparent thick-plated glass with the words ‘you are here’ etched on them .. we notice ourselves on the street, we seem weightless .. and this public house has doors .. behind these, someone is waiting, & behind that someone, the others are waiting ..
(from the poetry manuscript: outlier) (©2017)
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