Who is on the plum tree?
I love discovering new interesting voices. This week, I am introducing Aprilia Zank to the plum tree. Aprilia is a wonderful poet in her own right who also speaks with an authoritative voice on the nature and structure of poetry. The photos (except the one of T.S. Eliot) are Aprilia’s own~ sent in to illustrate the reflective/translational character of her piece. Thank you Aprilia for your great contribution to the plum tree.
By Aprilia Zank
That poetry cannot have a universally valid definition is commonplace; to try and move one step nearer to it, worthwhile. My yearlong academic research (PhD included) having focussed on aspects of poetry reception and limits of translatability, it is no wonder that, before long, I came to look upon poetry as a form of double translation. In a poem, what starts as a primary amalgam of feelings, sensations and urges, is being grasped, structured, organised and, ultimately, ‘translated’ into words and images – an end product from the poet’s perspective. For readers, though, this end product is a beginning, a platform for interpretation. They must undergo the opposite process: from the printed words to the mental images, to the depths of whatever urged the poet to write that special poem in that special way. To what extent the readers can be successful in their endeavour to ‘translate’ (interpret) it widely depends on the degree to which the primary amalgam, the raw material at the origin of the poetic work, has been structured and organised by its author into the end product. The more transparent the structuring of the raw material is, the less demanding the reader’s task will be, due to the fact that the author’s intention is easier to grasp. Where the author is very parsimonious when putting flesh to the bones of his work, the challenge for readers is a huge one. But it is precisely the potential of every piece of literature to be read in more than one way that makes this work vital and durable. This richness of potential interpretations is both synchronic and diachronic. Since its existence, literature of any kind – poetry included – has been interpreted according to the spirit, the mentality and the sensitivity of each age. As an individual receptor of a poetic message, the reader undertakes the creative work of ‘translating’ the author’s poetic images and metaphors into his own semantic, aesthetic, spiritual and affective categories. Ideally, the input and the output should be the same, in reality, there may be as many interpretations as readers; the statement holds true that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, understanding in the mind of the reader. And often enough, even though we have the feeling of not quite grasping it, we still enjoy a poem for its originality, its musicality, or, simply, its ineffable quality.
For me, poetry is involvement, in aesthetic terms, with life in all shades, from the beauteous to the sordid, from the exuberant to the unspeakable. The “I” of my poems is not necessarily autobiographical, but rather an incentive for the reader towards introspection of his/her own self. I’m an ardent lover of T. S. Eliot’s poetry and a ‘fierce’ supporter of his claim that poetry is not “a turning loose of emotion”; that is why I greatly appreciate poems in which I can sense the huge work behind the lines. As a reader and editor, this is one of my main criteria for poetry selection – as a poet, the first requirement on myself.