Monday, 18 February 2019

Writing simply

Helena Nelson's blog posts after her reading windows are always fascinating, and the latest one is no exception (see here). Of particular interest is her remark that she wrote the following on many poems this time: Writing simply is the hardest thing.

I'm personally drawn to this statement, as it very much mirrors my own poetic approach and method. Helena Nelson suggests that one reason why poets are afraid to write plainly is because they're worried the result wouldn't be a poem at all. I'd agree with her, but argue that writing simply also carries huge risks. There are no accoutrements, no verbal fireworks, no make-up to hide any flaws, and the consequence is that any mistakes become glaring.

Countless poets, editors and critics appear to equate simple with easy or facile. However, the reverse is true, as many readers recognise. This last point seems to me a good thing. We all want readers, don't we...?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Matthew, for drawing our attention to this. The 'writing simply' rings true. I was somewhat surprised, however, to find sestinas and villanelles singled out as I rarely encounter these forms in print, and often hope to see a few more. I would like to feel that we strive for 'the best', which may sometimes mean using a traditional form for a new poem. I wonder what others feel...