‘A rose is beautiful in itself, not because it stands for something’1 – the Acmeist approach to poetry, one that focuses on the solid object, not the symbolic. Jane Kenyon, in an introduction to her collection of translations of Anna Akhmatova, describes the Russian poet Gumilev’s proposed attack on symbolism with its ‘obligatory mysticism’2 and offered Acmeism as an alternative. My poetry, in the past three years, has taken an (almost) 180 degree turn in this fashion, from the symbolic rambling and abstract clutter in poems like Phoenix, where I ask an unnamed something to ‘- watch it burn, as my prayers turn to / flame.’ to more recent poems like A Change, where I describe the importance of perception and the influence of light on a person: ‘I appreciate it, / the way is slips over the skin, / illuminates the white, marble table.’ This is, with no doubt, an important and positive shift, I am ‘a craftsman, not a priest.’3
Living bloats me. I have, until recently, been unable to distract myself from the feeling of it in order to pay homage to the details that accumulate to create these feelings: ‘The actual substance of it, the material facts of it, (that) embed themselves in us quite a long way from the world of words.’4 Words and details make experience relatable and it is not until we set off in exploration for these words that we discover we do not know what to say. The poet, whose goal is publication, should not be a selfish poet, should not write so cryptically that the reader cannot understand and relate to the poem. Our job is to tell the truth, to put into words those feelings which are so hard to name, to be exhaustive in the naming of things, to encourage living (feeling) for those that might read the poem, inspiring courage when faced with life’s difficulties, knowing that the poet has experienced it too.
In my poem A Change I record observations about light and compare them to a previous experience of it, in an attempt to highlight the effects...
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