jeannineatkins (jeannineatkins) wrote,
jeannineatkins
jeannineatkins

Balancing the “Huh?” and “Oh!” of Poetry

As my poetry manuscript gets shorter and slimmer, that strange goal, I’m not only careful that I don’t go overboard and end up where I began --with a blank page -- but I weigh words. And punctuations. As I trim, I watch to make sure that not too much meaning disappears, but leave just enough to hint or provoke. I’m trying to be as careful as a jeweler chipping a precious stone, knowing the right angle can let in more light, but a wrong stroke will just make it a smaller rock. Or dust. My aim is to leave traces of people who are both different and somewhat the same from those any of us might know, though these are people from very long ago. I try to give information that isn't bulky, and keep a stance like a good hostess in the doorway: inviting people in, making them feel welcome, but not showing them the whole house, every picture in my albums.

I hope to raise curiosity, invite readers to make their own interpretations, but not say, “Huh?” Leaving them guessing, sometimes, but not feeling clueless, uniformed, or disrespected. I’ve unhappily read poetry that’s left me merely puzzled. Sometimes I’ve read it again and said something like “aha,” but sometimes I’ve felt there wasn’t much beyond staged ambiguity. Or just an echo of other poetry that sounds mysterious, or, even worse, echoes of echoes. Anything that “just sounds like poetry” tends to make me raise my eyebrows. I like to guess, but I want to feel the poet left clever or astonishing clues. I want mystery, but also a sense that past it a shore of knowing can be found.

For more Poetry Friday posts, please visit:
http://bookaunt.blogspot.com/2010/08/poetry-friday-teens-heart-poetry.html
Tags: conversations with the world, poetry friday
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