In conceiving of an idea, a vision (image) or emotion, which I shall call an IVE, the poet begins the process of expression. In attempting to translate what is chemically construed into feelings within a nexus of neural pathways, or cerebrally pictured in the web of synaptic sparking; the poet then seeks to impose on the daunting vacuum of blank page, what it is that he or she has imagined, or experienced.
Sometimes this is how I see the creative adventure. It begins simply enough from an initial IVE, pure and untainted. Immaculate in its conception, I must then render into a dynamic system of words what it is that I feel. From the very first word, the future of the poem is determined, but that future can only be approximated. As the work rolls forward from the tip of my pen or keyboard, if I do not link my words correctly, like the pellets from a shotgun they spread apart; the spaces between leaving room for the butterflies of chaos to flit through as they scatter into the next line of verse.
If I stated that each poem I have written, ended the way I imagined when first begun and had you believe that, then I should probably be running for public office! With each additional word, or deletion of same, the poem transforms and alters the determination of its future.
There are many poetic devices which we may use to group the pattern of our entropic words, or lack of them to accelerate their segregation. The first fundamental rules of poetry taught to me in school were ‘show, don’t tell’ and ‘use concrete images to express the intangible.’ Good rules, good advice at the time, but as poetry progresses as a medium, they tend to fall by the wayside and become lost in the need to over-stimulate the reader.
Word use is the palette from which we choose our colors and decide how the reader will first conceive our image. Selected with care, they control the pattern of flight that our initial blast has set in motion and assist in bringing forth a cohesive rendition to place before our audience. If our words are randomly assembled and placed carelessly before them; if we fail to delineate our IVE, they soon become lost in a chaotic miasma of colorful wings flitting confusingly about in a disharmony of disassociated images.
For some this may be desirable, but for me it rarely works. If the artist demands I make too grand an effort to understand what it is they are attempting to express, then chances are they will be handed disappointment.
Rhyme and meter can be applied to help regulate patterns of recognition, but again, if forced, rushed or treated with indifference, the reader may reject the overall premise of the poem.
Controlling the tone of a work as it develops, also assists the reader in getting the ‘feel’ of the poet’s intent.
And as poets, it is our challenge to render something not just enjoyable, but intelligible and meaningful through a medium of lyrical language, alliteration and consonance; thus we may call it art.
Perhaps it is from an ‘Old School’ paradigm that I write, but I know what I like! Making sense of Alphabet Soup was a delight as a child and a puzzling pastime, but as a reader I must insist on more than simple entertainment. I insist that you challenge me to feel what you feel, to share the poignancy of your love or your loss. If you can do this I will read you. I will call you poet and grow in respect for your craft.
Entropy hounds us with each phrase that we write, leaking away authenticity through the space between words. The more complex the system, the larger the margin for error; so we must fight for each word that we choose, demand that it serve our intended purpose and be willing to retire those that do not.
SS Matthews writing from the 13th Floor Paradigm