Who is on the plum tree?
Each Wednesday, I want to feature a rotation of different poets/writers writing about poetry…why they like a particular poem, new discoveries, (could be you) a little analysis. First to make his appearance on The Wednesday Corner is Dr. Ampat Koshy. We have already published several of Ampat’s poems in our various anthologies. We are very excited to welcome him here onto the Plum Tree.
Dr. Koshy is the author of the popular – A Treatise for Poetry For Beginners, one among four books he has authored or co-authored. He is an assistant professor in Saudi Arabia, a poet, short story writer and critic.
Thank you, Dr. Koshy for joining us on the plum tree.
Writing poetry is one of the greatest pleasures in the world. So is reading it and learning how to write it, at least for those who are addicted to it. If one is on facebook, for instance, the number of poets writing these days and the anthologies, poetry magazines and individual or group collections coming out or the poetry pages or groups there are simply mind boggling. As are the sheer number of poems posted everywhere.
In this series I would like to start where it really matters. What people really love about poetry nowadays is imagery. Naturally enough they prefer visual imagery. I teach poetry. Students nowadays are excited by poems being made into videos and images. But those slightly more experienced know that putting an image to a verbal one makes it a one to one correspondence and kills it by killing the imagination’s ability to use the inner eye.
Here is a beautiful poem by Rimbaud.
It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.
A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses,
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.
His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: he is cold.
No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.
– As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962) (http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Sleeper.html
How does one learn to write like this?
One needs to observe life carefully, lovingly, intensely and be in love with life with an eye for its amazing details and wanting to find the language for describing it. Then read such poets to see how they defamiliarize things with words, make it slightly askew. An example is Rimbaud using “crazily catching silver rags” in the second line and “bubbling” in the fourth. And the masterpiece is of course “two red holes.” The second is an example of an auditory image but coupled with “light” it again becomes beautifully askew.
Yes. Observe carefully using all the five inner and outer senses, read, jot down for use, keeping in mind that unleashing the imagination fully means using the five external and internal senses.
Too simple a formula, you may think, but effective. Try it. Best of luck.
Dr A.V. Koshy