May 28, 2013

Naked, though not utterly revealed

Glass house can’t exclude
your fresh, sweet regard stirring
my desire for more.

by J.D. Grubb
24 May, 2013

* * *

Read those three lines once more, only slower.

Now read them a third time, slower still.

It takes discipline, but I was taught that poetry needs to be read a few times in a row. Even then, understanding is not guaranteed. More than prose, there is a purpose hidden in the intentionality of the few words used. There is rhythm in the grammatical structure. There is meaning in the spaces between.

Honestly, I have not delved deep into the world of poetry. I have given more of myself to the novel. Yet poetry has always held a stirring appeal. Its nimble purity. Its naked thought and emotion. Naked, though not utterly revealed. Through patient repetition, as well as an open and careful attentiveness, the reader may discover the heart of the idea - the message the poet wishes to give. This is true for the writer as well. Furthermore, by journeying through a collection of works, one may even learn something of the poet's soul.

I believe that while much of this is true with the literary novelist as well, a difference may be that a poem is more like a photograph while a novel is more like a film. Is that a fair analogy? Both require different sensibilities from both creator and recipient. They need to be examined differently. The expectation should not necessarily be the same.

For example, more so than the novel, a poem takes a reader into a moment. If I care about such things, I examine into what that moment offers as though, for a while, there is nothing else around me. It is like looking through a microscope, perhaps. Or in the more dramatic instances, like staring into the eyes of another person. Those eyes do not reveal the person's whole story. Or, at least I do not have the discernment to know the whole story through that gaze. But they do offer something of that person - a message, a language - even if it is just reflected in a moment. A photograph captures an instance of light and perspective that may not be repeatable, or at least is rare considering the myriad of variables influencing it. It is difficult to express. Therein lies the writer's potential. Alongside other mediums, poem is part of the journey to understand what I am witnessing in life. It is one way to try to make sense of it all.

But I digress into more wandering prose than are appropriate for such a discussion.

What I would like to know is what you think the haiku above is about? I want to tap into your conscious for a moment. Like with a Rorschach Test, I am curious to know what you see - what the words rouse in your thoughts? (This is, of course, assuming that you even find the poem interesting or good in the first place.)

Should you find this subject engaging, I would, furthermore, welcome the challenge of writing a few more poems for you. But I would appreciate your help. What do you find alluring about a poem, if anything? What subject?


Curry Fiend said...

My first thought comes from the phrase "glass house" and I think of that saying about throwing stones at glass houses. Then I keep reading and reinterpret it as openness of character perhaps.
Do keep sharing! Do you have any recommended resources on poetry? I'e been getting back to writing myself and would like some resources on form, exercises, etc.

J.D. Grubb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Curry Fiend. Your reading and interpretation of my poem are a testament to how poetry can speak in numerous ways to numerous people. That is one of my deep desires as a writer. That there be a thematic truth or element in the various interpretations is also my hope.

Aside from a Creative Writing class in high school, I have not given poetry much formal study. I do love it though, and have certainly learned from just reading it - not extensively, mind you; for I am more drawn to the novel.

As there is a lot of poetry out there, or any art form for that matter, I personally find it helpful to start with what are considered the "classics" of their medium. Be warned, however, that it can ruin your perspective of much contemporary work. (I think in a mostly good way. There is good work being done today, but there is a reason why great works are known as great works.) For example, 100 Best-Loved Poems edited by Philip Smith was a good start for me. From there, I have begun honing in on the broader works of those writers whose poetry spoke to me the most. For example, Robert Frost, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Shakespeare, and a few others. Not to mention some poetic songwriting (Have you heard of a current musician called Sleeping at Last? His lyrics are the most poetic that I have heard. Or Nick Drake?).

Otherwise, in terms of the technical rules, etc. of poetic form(s), I am sure there are some good introductory or overview texts available. Or, if you know the terms (e.g. haiku, sonnet, Shakespearian Sonnet, etc.), it can be just as helpful to dig around on the internet a bit. Overall, practicing different forms is quite challenging and growing as a writer. I recommend it.

Hopefully this helps. I hope that you have a blessed week.