Saturday, 7 November 2009

ON POETRY [a collection of 8 poems]

i) Ted Hughes' Profligate Portents
ii) 
iii) A Various Fart
iv) The Ordinary Poets
v) 
vi) 
vii) Dylan Thomas, Not: Break Through the Cell of Self
viii) Fear of the First Personi) Ted Hughes' Profligate Portents

That relentless portentousness!
Line after line… after verse after … after poem.
Portents for every occasion and for every conceivable thing.
The portentous can of Coke that grins in the bin.
The sadness of the lone carrot left on a plate.
And the symbolism. The symbolism!
Every line…No! Every word is symbolic of this, that and the other.
Nothing is as it seems to the naïve or uncultured.
All comes to us via the intermediary of the symbol.
He has no desire for direct reference or telling it as it is.
Each word bears a symbolic burden.
Each word has its burden of suprasense.

ii)

iii) A Various Fart

(A commentary on a particular anthology of contemporary British poetry.)

An anthology of pretension.
Each poem a monument to non-meaning.
Each poet has a genius for obscurity.
A collection of willful ambiguities.

These poets joined the Esoteric Gang young.
They lurked on campus corners.
They sharpened their intellects to pounce on all anachronists.
When no prey came, they tongued each other's arseholes -
Waiting for some fatuous nonsense to arrive.
On good days Thesaurus worked as well as Senna Pod.

These frauds hold up the banners of surrealism and abstraction.
But they were organic growths from the past.
Not Palm Trees on the North Pole.
Their poetry is like a growth on the end of one's cock - meaningless and unwanted.

The technique:
i) Put plenty of symbols, images and metaphors in the Poetry Bag -
(The more pretensious the better).
ii) Shake the bag.
iii) Pick out the contents at random.
iv) Stick them together with sticky-back plastic.
And, hey presto! A Various Fart!

Here's one I prepared earlier:

Morning comes into the heart of our house.
Driving silver cotton flames into the Soul of Eternity.
We never know what knowing is.
And we never know what it is like to know never.
Never mind.
Our minds never mind...
But deep in the pink forest a dog is barking!

iv) The Ordinary Poets

(‘The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople. - it’s no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike.’ - e.e. cummings)A poet sits down and tries his best to write in the accepted style.
To keep his poeticisms down to a minimum.
To talk only of fish shops, supermarkets, and the X Factor.
To keep rhetoric and hyperbole at bay, or at least disguised.
To write in a way that befits the ordinary man; and the Ordinary Poet.
To keep one’s hands well off philosophy, science, and all things elitist.
To keep his grandiloquent aims safe within his private mind.
To say No to all experiments unconcerned with the Common Man and his Ordinary Poet.
One must keep it simple, colloquial and chatty, for fear of irrelevance.

The Ordinary Poet must drink ordinary beer in ordinary pubs.
If one writes of ‘quantum fluctuations’ or the ‘ontology of Being’,
One commits the sin of irrelevance or elitism, or both.
And what must be the case, and what must be stuck too,
Is specified by the Ordinary Poet sitting in his ordinary pub
Drinking his ordinary beer in an ordinary kind of way.
Don’t read the experimentalists.
Definitely don’t read the Canon – it’s full of the Old Men I was forced to read.
The hated Canon; now replaced by the Ordinary Canon
Which is full of the poets writing ordinary things in ordinary ways.

The adoption of the Ordinary takes the guise of street-slang hyperbole; fish-shop rhetoric;
or the bus-stop polemics of those daytime streets they simply adore.
The Ordinary Poets gather round a table to workshop-a-while.
They write about fish shops and those Saturday nights they simply adore…
About the inner-city streets they’ve often stopped at -
Like Japanese tourists consuming London -
To take a mental photo or two for later poems.
Poems that will be written in the style, if not of all ordinary folk,
Then in the style of the Ordinary Poet.

v)

vi)

vii) Dylan Thomas, Not: Break Through the Cell of Self

Fierce in cold was the Winter day when I threw off all the old ways
And wore like a prince a new cloak of Knowing and Doing
And letting no other step in my path to happiness.

The frost burnt into my hands and into the bark of trees.
It fed the still liquid, but lived, lived as I shall live,
Through the Winter of my failures.
Then to rise up to the bloody sun, to offer my soul
Still breathing from the endless striving Will.

Look on me with eyes which hide compassion.
That hide the means to break the yoke
And thrust through the cell of self into a new world,
Green and life-new in youth.
Open up to me the springs of the fresh world.
Bathe me till by body is red and sore with experience.

I am waiting, near to you in moors that sing your name through beauty.
I hold up my soul in this close-to-heaven heaven.

viii) Fear of the First Person

He fears to write in the first person…
I fear to write in the first person.
In poetry it gives too much away.
I refuse to be seen in the nude
Or have a line quoted back at me as evidence.
I do not want to betray what poets call the soul.
Or wipe my poetic arse in public.
My shit and I have secrets we only share with my bog-role.
I shit out my private effluence behind closed doors.
I let the voice of any old third person take the stick.
Commit sins, crimes and behave with little circumspection.
These fictions are my laboratory animals
On which I experiment with my scalpel.
I send them down mazes I have never traveled.
And into dark forests which frighten the real me.
So don’t blame me for my characters’ misdemeanors.

My aim is merely to create ‘paintings in words’
Of the lives and exploits of fictional entities -
Not to offer moral imperatives or certainties
Or political discourses on this, that and the other…
Or so I pretend.
I keep my bogus distance from my people.
In the end, whether a serial killer or a monk, there’s something of me in all of them.
If this weren’t the case, they would be lifeless creations.
Even with the impossible creatures of the mind -
With as little reality as Meinong’s square circle.
So it is their behaviour that doesn’t ape my own.
Their minds, however, contain fragments of my mind.
Or my mind contains fragments of theirs.
These people live at other possible worlds
In which they instantiate my mind’s own writing
But not my body’s actions.
Of course such a duality of mind and action could never occur -
Not even at a possible world.
If my counterparts have my mind, then they behave as I do here on earth.
Or if they behave as I do, then their minds are as mine too.

I have also been warned about the vice of personal poetry.
Apparently, it’s just for women.
Not for Real Men, such as me.
We, that is, men, should deal entirely in the descriptive -
As a Realist painter, but with words not paint.
Or, instead, leave the emotions well alone.
Deal only with portentous stuff, not fluff and nonsense.
Alternatively, I am allowed to write on my Everyday.
But only if that everyday is fish shops or pubs.
Or I can concern myself with good grammar or the replication of good speech –
With little flowery ornamentation.
Good speech is a lily which doesn’t need gilding.

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