Monday, January 23, 2006

Poems Like Pictures?

'Like' above is not a verb. Or is it? I was entering a poetry competition online today - hard to believe I could barely manage to send an email five years ago, and now look at me! - and found myself thinking 'what's the point?' You see, I never win these bloody things, never have done - well, apart from a Gregory, but I put that anomaly down to beginner's luck - and the poem I've entered in this competition isn't even about anything. Which then made me look more closely at my poems, or at least the ones I've written over the past year, to see how many of them are actually about something other than themselves, i.e. how many work on a variety of levels? And the answer, I'm afraid, seems to be 'not as many as I would like.'

Which then led me to wonder 'well, do poems always need to be about something? Why can't some poems simply be like pictures?'

But then, of course, the academic at the back of my head, the one with the annoying nasal voice, came in with the idea that even pictures are about something more than themselves, that they too work on a variety of levels. But the realist in me, the one who changes nappies and does self-assessment tax returns, said that there will always be pictures which are nothing but pictures, which are not allegories or statements or manifestoes or challenges to one's social conscience, but which are still accepted as 'art' by some expert or another. So why can't some poems be like those pictures and still work as poems, i.e. somehow managing to mean more than themselves?

I'll let you know if it wins any prizes. But I suspect you may be waiting a long time for that.

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