Thursday, 22 April 2010

"You have to improve upon the blank page"

Today in my Creative Writing class I began to studyy poetry. The basic rule was, I think, to forget everything I have ever learned about poetry and start from scratch. No rules, no boundaries, except, of course, that "you have to improve upon the blank page" (Nicanor Parra).

Here are two pieces from today's class that I really adored; the first is an extract from Charles Bukowski's (one of my favourite poets) poem The Man With the Beautiful Eyes, and the second is a poem by Don Paterson called The Lie.

The Man With the Beautiful Eyes

he was holding a
fifth of whiskey
in his right
he was about
he had a cigar
in his
needed a
his hair was
wild and
and he was
in undershirt
and pants.
but his eyes
they blazed
with brightness

(I'm not certain if this is the correct form of the poem or if it's my copying and pasting that failed).

The Lie

by Don Paterson

Don Paterson
As was my custom, I’d risen a full hour
before the house had woken to make sure
that everything was in order with The Lie,
his drip changed and his shackles all secure.

I was by then so practiced in this chore
I’d counted maybe thirteen years or more
since last I’d felt the urge to meet his eye.
Such, I liked to think, was our rapport.

I was at full stretch to test some ligature
when I must have caught a ragged thread, and tore
his gag away; though as he made no cry,
I kept on with my checking as before.

Why do you call me The Lie? he said. I swore:
it was a child’s voice. I looked up from the floor.
The dark had turned his eyes to milk and sky
and his arms and legs were all one scarlet sore.

He was a boy of maybe three or four.
His straps and chains were all the things he wore.
Knowing I could make him no reply
I took the gag before he could say more

and put it back as tight as it would tie
and locked the door and locked the door and locked the door

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