Monday, 13 January 2014

Poetic fireworks

Ever since my years as an undergraduate, I've witnessed umpteen sterile arguments as to whether form should boss content or vice versa. In fact, I'm convinced that good poetry welds both together in the service of the finished verse.

Much the same is true of fireworks. By the use of the term fireworks, I'm referring to linguistic acrobatics. When a critic mentions that they feel those  fireworks are either missing or overdone in a poem, my interpretation is that they've encountered a lack of balance in the work - the degree to which linguistic acrobatics are employed shouldn't depend on minimalist dogma or the desire to show off verbal dexterity.

Instead, fireworks should be married to the verse. Successful poetry can be pared down to the bones or burst with exuberance. The art is in working out where to strike that balance in every poem we write.

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