Monday, June 06, 2005

Long Poems

I'd love to write a long poem. A really big one, like the Cantos say, that covers everything, that pours in loads of ideas and images and whatever's going on in my head. A whole lot of fragments and asides and quotes that somehow hang together in one big metling-pot. But I guess I'm just not that kind of poet. I don't get those kinds of ideas.

Sometimes, in fact, I barely make it to 20 lines, and there's only two of my recent poems have made it past 50 lines. But then I think of the opposite end of the scale: those Japanese hiaku and their smallness which somehow contain largeness. Although mostly it seems to be of the Zen koan kind of "find the nothingness within you" variety. And I also like the sonnet, for some reason; 14 lines which at their best can contain an enormous amount. But of course, the sonnet brings me to another question: that of form.

Most of my poems are, I guess, free verse of one kind or another. Or they have regular verses but irregular line lengths, and I don't often write in any formal grid. But I like the challenge sometimes of confining myself to the little box of the sonnet, then maybe bending it or stretching it, to take in long lines or short, to break in the "wrong" place or to rhyme in an odd way. One of the things that attracts me to poetry is its sound, so I like to mess with the sound of it.

Oh, but it's such an old form - yeah I guess it is. Well, it makes me feel a little closer to Shakespeare and Donne then. That's no bad thing: two writers with whom you could spend a lifetime wandering around in their heads.

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