Monday, 27 October 2008

Paring down Poetry

Can you pare down poetry too much? George Szirtes taught me that cutting some of the superfluous words from my poems made them stronger and I can see that he was right. After the initial shock in my first year at uni of seeing my poetry with words, lines and even stanzas crossed out I was able to see that my poetry was evolving and growing. It is stronger, clearer, more direct, it speaks in its own voice without getting bogged down in ands and buts and explanatory lines.

Minimalist poetry is the kind of poetry that I prefer to read myself - poets like Lorca and Neruda. Poetry that appears simple yet the beauty of the language can bring tears to your eyes and make your heart sing. What I find myself wondering though is whether poetry can become too refined? Does the constant paring down mean that you might lose some essence of the original poem? Will I keep obsessively paring down my words until each line is but a single word? Will my poem eventually be simply a blank page?

There is without a doubt great beauty in silence, but in the silence of choice not that of procrastination.

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