Monday 8 September 2008


This week feels like a new start.

An email from Elizabeth in response to some questions about achieving depth of meaning in writing poems:

...There are no real prescriptions - except, I think, concentrate hard on the subject (the sofa, the dog, the children reading etc) - but never should poetry be deliberately obscure. (If the Casanova poems seem difficult it is because the concept (Casanova's mind games and dialogue with himself) was difficult.) The 'difficulty' of a poem should match or equal the difficulty of what the poet is trying to say. Obviously William Carlos Williams' poem about a red wheelbarrow is very different, in difficulty level, from say a poem by Robert Lowell. It's getting this as near right as we can that is part of the fascination of poetry.

(The text of the William Carlos Williams' poem and an analysis are here)

Re-reading Elizabeth's Casanova poems, (Elizabeth Smithers, Casanova's Ankle, 1981, Oxford University Press), I found them difficult to understand. I am also not at all sure that I 'understand' the Wheelbarrow poem and have yet to read poetry by Robert Lowell. A lot of catching up to do.

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