Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Intertidal poetry

I love this picture of seaweed at low tide. The residue of movement is thrilling because the object is static while the energy of the sea heaves away a few hundred metres down the beach. This is poetry.

At least, this is what I try to capture in my work. The words and their overall shape on the page are motionless but contained in their sense is an extraordinary movement. Such intention was likened, by a friend recently, to a rose blooming. Poetry has the ability to capture the coming into presence of something: object, person or event. All poetry has this inherent energy, even if it initally looks like this still seaweed. No wonder it becomes addictive to its practitioners.

Peter Redgrove called that moment of discovery, an 'opening', the heightened sensation of understanding or illumination. The best poems continue to open long after they've been set. To me, that is, as much as to any reader. The chafing of word against word, line on line, can continue to spark indefintely, reshaping depending on time, tide and light. Edit this too much and there's a danger for me to over manipulate the subject. I like the not-knowing, the unseeing element. Those waves shingling the beach in the distance while I stare at this seaweed. It lets me off the hook. Surprises, startles and unsettles me.