Thursday, May 22, 2014


I seem to have been writing more poetry of late. I am not sure why. If poetry is supposed to be the exaltation in verse of things that exceed quotidian prose to convey with any semblance of justice, then many of the little snippets of verse I push forth are failures, or I am exceeded by much in my life. Or both; the two are not mutually exclusive.

Lest it be thought that I bemoan myself in some pity-seeking attention-whoring...well, maybe I do, a little. But there have been times when I have been appropriately moved to verse, even if my execution has left somewhat to be desired. I recall penning a short piece in the Anglo-Saxon alliterative style for the death of Gary Gygax (I was playing a character whose deeds were recorded in the mode); I penned another at the death of my Anglo-Saxon professor (it does not do justice to the man). In both cases, I wrote in response to intense feeling, following what I have heard many say is the proper inspiration for poetic work. (In both cases, I may well have needed more practice before making the attempt.) Simply stating would not have sufficed; something about the removal from "regular" language offered by poetic form made it more equal to the task--much as I have noted before.

Many of my more recent pieces of poetry have not proceeded from such places. In writing of the summer quiet of a college town, I was mildly happy, but not overwhelmed by that happiness. In writing of resting on the day of rest, I responded to discussions I have had with people, and if they have weighed on my mind, that is more because of how my mind works than because of how my heart does.

Perhaps I use it as a respite from the work I do in prose. The Work is almost all in the kind of dense, sober prose that makes so many shy away from academic writing (and, given that I have read much more of it than many who shy away from it, I cannot say those who do so are wrong to do so). The freelance work I do is less dense, perhaps, but not necessarily more vigorous; it is written to order, and the order is for clarity and concision, neither of which corresponds to what voice I have as a poet (or as a writer of other types of prose, as might be guessed from what I include in this webspace). What I have to suppress in myself to do the work that needs to be done in freelancing and in The Work--which do occupy most of my time--builds up, or would did I not express it.

That can be an unpleasant image, my poetic efforts as expressions, as if they are the pus and stagnant oil that accrue behind blackheads and would swell the skin as blemishes were they not pressed upon and forced out, little splatters of what was stuck beneath the surface unattractively strewn across a bathroom mirror, soon wiped away and forgotten...

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