SunWinks! March 1, 2015: Abstract Poetry: The Medium is the Message.

Dear SunWinkers!

This is a lightly reworked reissue of my September, 2012 column for on the topic of Abstract and Cubist Poetry. I also urge you to read our recent SunWinks! columns on Edith Sitwell and Intrinsic Rhythm and Cubism as these three columns all encourage you to sharpen your sense of the sound, rhythm, and structure of your writing by putting aside considerations of meaning.

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SunWinksLogoWell, we’re all done with modern poetry. I’ve exhausted every conceivable topic, every possible technique. There’s nothing left to talk about. Just go back through my previous columns and you’ll know everything there is to know about writing modern poetry.

Did I have you going for a second?

The fact is, there is no end to the invention, the creativity, and the variety of modern poetry and approaches to modern poetry. Think of how many stylistic genres and individual styles there are in modern painting, to name just one medium. Think for just a moment about the unique visions of Monet, Mondrian, Matisse, Miro, Grandma Moses, and M.C. Escher.

As I’ve said, and tried to demonstrate, poetry is much more than sentiment, short lines, and end rhymes. The techniques that can be used to communicate the very special, intimate truth that lives in the poetic imagination are as rich and variegated as the colors in the artist’s palette, or the harmonic colors in the music composer’s palette. I’m inviting you to go wild. Let loose. Be creative. Pull out all the stops. Put all the leftovers into the stew. Throw the paint onto the wall. Play the piano without the music—with your fists, even. Continue reading


SunWinks! August 31, 2014: Cubism Isn’t Just For Squares

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

Cubism is an artistic movement of the 1910’s and ‘20s exemplified by Picasso. The idea of cubism is to deconstruct the objective components of a subject and reassemble them in striking ways. So Picasso pulls out eyes and nose and breasts and contours and assembles them on the canvas as though he had turned around and thrown them over his shoulder like a bridal bouquet. The effect is to open the mind and force us to look at the inner structure of things without being seduced by phenomena like symmetry and photorealism.

So it is with cubist poetry, which breaks its subject matter down into discrete pieces and juxtaposes them in unusual ways, creating a nonlinear effect on the mind that would otherwise be inaccessible underneath layers of the familiar flow of meaning and language. Continue reading