Natural turns

I’m not really intrigued with the idea of following the classic emblem poem and incorporating some way to reflect back on God. I still think that turn would be easy but it feels overplayed. I think that in the modern days of poetry, poets tend to gravitate organically towards what is new and fresh so turns become more creative on their own.

One way that I really thought interesting to turn a poem is by first observing an object, as if it were opening night at an art gallery, and keep looking and looking until you come to some deep revelation about how that object relates to your life. I know that when we went to the art gallery last class, I was really anticipating not being able to turn my poems because I didn’t feel really drawn to the emblem structure and I was having some difficulty with it. I think that after observing the art pieces however, some turns naturally came to me because my descriptions were reminding me of other things. So, I think that when you’re free to turn the poem to relate and tie into your own personal connections, it is definitely comes more easily and is most of the time, more interesting.

G.C. Waldrep also has an interesting approach to the way he turns his poems. On page 28 in the poem “XXII. Snow Hill, Maryland, 1989” he first starts the poem with almost an anecdote; the poem feels as if its going through a road trip and then it reflects on itself with the final few lines:

Art about buildings & food is always really about music.
Say you’re driving along the Eastern Shore with the radio blaring
and suddenly you’re hungry and it’s summer and ahead of you
at the edge of the four-lane mirage
you spy a drive-in—THICK SHAKES! GOOD FOOD!—
and being American you try very hard not to think of words like architecture
so as to concentrate more completely on your hunger, on the Buick you drive
and on the speed at which you are going, which is to say
on the distance between gratification & performance.
Being American you accomplish this with relative ease
but really it’s the music you hear
and it’s the music you keep hearing when at last you pull off the macadam
only to discover the place is closed and looks as if it has been
for what passes in these parts as a long time.

There is a definite shift when Waldrep starts getting into the part where he says, “and being American you try very hard not to think of words like architecture,” which is shifted again at the final two lines of the poem, “only to discover the place is closed and looks as if it has been/ for what passes in these parts as a long time.” I think in looking at this poem as an emblem it is more admirable than the classical emblem in that it is so concise and on the shorter end.

He begins with driving on the road, then shifts to talking about what is American and not American. How Americans are concerned on eating and our own selves that at times it feels like that’s all that can be thought about. How Americans seek to gain gratification through their own performances and that our performances rise above in comparison. But then the poem shifts at the end to say the things that the American is striving towards in essence, suppressing their “hunger,” is closed at the culmination of the poem. I think this is definitely a commentary on how hungry Americans are not only like that literally but how they’re like that figuratively whether it be for money or power or whatever else. Waldrep uses a fast food place to convey this point.

I think direction is more interesting when it is subtler and done in a shorter time period as we see through many of Waldrep’s poems. It makes it almost more necessary to find the shift, where as in the classic emblems, finding the turn is almost facilitated for the reader because the poems are usually so lengthy. I really enjoy quick shifts in direction because I think that’s the natural process of the mind and it feels more natural to me. I think looking at direction this way and especially for a poet can really help in writing because I think that a lot can come out of your own thought processes if you take the time to delve into them.

One Response to “Natural turns”

  1. exclamate Says:

    I also thought that I would have trouble having turns in my ekphrastic poems. I did, though. I was having trouble even writing a poem that “moved” without personifying the object at hand. I suppose that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my reliance on second person poetry became glaringly obvious when I was at the gallery, and I’m not sure I liked it.

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