Thursday, August 16, 2007

About Images

I've been aware for some time of shying away from images in my poetry – if that's possible - and opting instead for inhabiting characters, telling their stories, focusing on rhythm and rhyme, for how a poem sounds is where much of its magic lies, for me. I thought I was well outside the fold with this lapse of image – they are what critics comment on, after all, and students get told to look for, since they body forth 'themes', another subject I hope to talk about soon. Then browsing yesterday, I came across these lines from a poem by Marie Ponsot, whom my friend Ricky and I went to hear read at Poets House in NYC a few years ago. (Thanks again, Ricky.)

To see clear, resist the drag of images.
Take nature as it is, not Dame nor Kind.
Act in events; touch what you name. Abhor
easy obverts of natural metaphor.

Of course the poem moves on from there into some fine images, but the lines say what I was thinking so good, I had was to share them. And check out de lady rhyme and riddim... Hot, hot, hot. Look on those spondees roughing up the pentameter. Long time since I buck up spondees doing them thing so good. And a likl rhyme there, just leggo from her pen, unexpected so, like a googlie. Very nice.

from "Pathetic Fallacies Are Bad Science But" in SPRINGING: NEW & SELECTED POEMS (New York: Knopf) 2002, p 33.

The second poem in the book, "Drunk & Disorderly, Big Hair", done in dactyls (Who writes a poem in dactyls? Who CAN write a poem in dactyls?) is worth buying the book for.

Poll results: of five voters, four thought Louise Bennett should be declared a national hero and one didn't. I'd love to hear the reasons of the one...

Stay out of strong winds. Likklemore.


FSJL said...

I find -- having returned to poetry after years away -- that images force themselves into existence. Images emerge from memory, from thought, or from the shape of the words themselves as they form on the screen.

clarabella said...

Hi there! Great to hear from you, here and elsewhere, after so long! How are you? I'm not ignoring you on FB, but the mechanics of it utterly confuses me. I am very glad to know that you are writing again. Re-membered you at Kingsgate as I looked at the new edition of Paula Burnett's Penguin collection of Caribbean verse, still, I think, the best there is. Especially pleased that you are writing sonnets (thanks for sharing... I hope it's not just the one?) especially since the book of poems I am now working on is a collection of sonnets. And I agree: images do force themselves into existence (hence my caveat) and I like and use the broadest interpretation of "imagery", which includes, as you say, "the shape of the words themselves as they form on the page". Thanks much for this comment. If I unravel the mysteries of FB – how did I get up there? long story – I shall hang something on the wall...