from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 12 December 2011

Andy Brown POETRY

Anyone who teaches poetry will be aware of the struggle involved in getting new writers to move away from the impetus for inclusion of great and sublime abstract ideas and phrases, initially more 'poetic' seeming, to a more-apparently-mundane use of the concrete and the sensory. The more I teach poetry the more I come to appreciate fully the art of poets like Robert Hass, James Wright and Jane Hirshfield, who allow the concrete to shape the poem but also intuit the exact proportion of abstract to concrete to enhance rather than undermine the poem.

One of the participants on my Poetry School course in Exeter drew my attention to this great blog by my friend Andy Brown, who heads the creative writing programme at Exeter University. Oddly, the ground he's covering resonates with a session I led last week on the Anne Carson poem that he mentions (this appears in the Staying Alive anthology which is the core text for my course); and he also mentions kennings, which we too spoke of. Andy and I both appear in the New Exeter Book of Riddles (now not so new) – and ditto.

This is an excerpt from his post:



Thisness and Thusness:  Thing Theory

In the writing classroom I regularly find myself discussing the central aim of poetry to make something that is absent become present. It seems to me one of the most basic concepts to understand in writing a poem. How do we make what is not there, appear as though it were?
T.S. Eliot of course came up with the idea of the Objective Correlative – a way of using concrete objects to stand in for abstract emotions. It has become an orthodoxy in creative writing, underpinning the endlessly-touted imperative “Show Don’t Tell”. And it is in his stead that the Canadian poet Anne Carson, for example, writes about her father’s blue cardigan (the present object) to stand  in for the abstract idea of loss (the absent). Don’t name the loss, we teach, which is abstract and absent by nature; simply write about the empty cardigan.


If you're interested in poetry I highly recommend this post.

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