what the fuck is it with poetry?
It’s a form I fundamentally don’t feel, as a writer.
Not that I don’t love it – lyrics of songs and bits of poetry are in my head all the time. Things from tolkien, from ogden nash, from james thurber, from andy partridge, steven wilson, lloyd cole, phil lynott. Words that move me and capture me.
But when I write – fiction at least – I hear narrator voice in my head, which is why I write the way I do, in character, with that characters voice ringing in my skull.
This isn’t something I learned in school. It’s something I do by instinct, like a musician playing by ear.
But verse – it escapes me. I can’t hear it, feel it, do it by instinct. It’s like an intuitive jazz player trying to play in a symphony, without being able to read the charts. They may find the notes that make sense, but they won’t grasp where they are supposed to fit with a hundred other instruments.
I look at work by poets I admire, and I see what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and I react. But I don’t understand why they do what they do.
Why the line break here, and not there? Why this may beats on a line? Are they hearing some drumbeat, heartbeat, some rhythm i’m not party to? Is there an invisible template?
I need to talk to poets about poetry, which somehow sounds so beatnik I want to get out my beret and snap my fingers. I need to hear them read out loud, maybe, or to understand how they chose a form (or if the form choses them, perhaps, as a character speaking in my head; I just listen to them, they speak to and through me).
I read things that inspire, and I try to do what they do, and to date, my tries and lyrics and poetry always wind up awkward and unfinished.
I need the why.