Saturday, 24 September 2016

The best poems...?

I'm grateful to Richard Skinner for having reminded me the other day on Twitter of the following quote from Ian Hamilton:

"The best poems are a strange combination of intense personal experience and icily controlled craftsmanship".

Of course, this typically assertive and implicitly provocative statement by Hamilton is as much a declaration of personal method as a blueprint for others. Its hinge lies in the use of "strange". Predictability can kill a poem.

There's also an intriguing dual interpretation of the word "icily". While consciously advocating dispassionate craft when writing poetry, Hamilton is also unconsciously revealing one of the few stumbling blocks that I encounter when reading his otherwise terrific verse: a lack of warmth and engagement. I hugely admire his work, but struggle to empathise.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Matthew

    And Ian Hamilton was a very strong influence on his peers - too strong, perhaps, on someone like Hugo Williams.
    I haven't commented before because I've been too busy finishing my eighteenth volume AMERICAN ANAGRAMS now available from and Amazon Kindle.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish