Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Writing the Domestic

Have been writing a lot of poems about the domestic of late - and I don't mean that in the houseworky, housewife, domestic poetry sense. But I am interested in domestic concerns - looking afresh at the everyday: rooms; houses on my street;  those overlooked spaces like cupboards and draws, sheds and outhouses.

Writing about such concerns has naturally sent me in quest of other writers who have explored this territory. Charles Sinic seemed like an obvious place to start as his poem Fork immediately sprang to mind, and someone in one of my workshopping groups recommended Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec, which I have bought but as yet haven't had time to read. What I have been reading this week is Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein. Stein employs ostranenie to the extreme - her writing about objects is both ridiculous and sublime prose poetry written in a stream of conciousness style. Stein juxtaposes seemingly unrelated, utterly surprising and often beautiful images, but it is quite hard to read too much of it in one go. I can read three or four poems at a time and then I need a while to process them, and I will often read them again when I come back to the book. These are poems that you can come back to again and again and they will keep revealing new layers of meaning.

At the same time I have reading a collection of poems called A Light Sense of Light by Caribbean poet Kei Miller. Miller's work doesn't address the domestic directly, but his language is fresh and inspiring. It is probably the best collection that I have read this year, and the combination Miller's fresh use of language and Stein's surreal juxtapositions has been really inspiring whenever inspiration has been flagging.

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