I’m not a poetry kind of guy. I don’t curl up with a book of verses to lose myself, or quote passages to fellow aficionados. Poetry I find over-stimulating in a way that’s different from prose. For me the discipline is like solving cryptic crosswords or puzzling out brain teasers: it requires effort from what seems a specific part of the brain and, to be honest, I’m quite lazy.
Not that I’m poetically bankrupt. I appreciate a good turn of phrase, a mind-blowing metaphor, a piquant simile or log-jams of alliteration. I use them — you may have noticed — all the time in posts. It’s just that to put all that into a bag marked Poetry is somehow … just not my bag. It may be to do with it seeming pretentious. Or possibly trite. It could be that I’m put off with all the white space around carefully formatted stanzas. And certainly volumes of verse epics strike me as expeditionary excursions to be avoided.
Thus I’m embarrassed to say that I find myself to be conflicted, even compromised. Because, my dear readers, I write poetry.
I started with miniatures. Haiku, senryu, limericks — that sort of thing. I sneaked them into a new blog I entitled Zenrinji, a Japanese name roughly translating as Temple in the Calm Grove and so entirely apt for the present writer attempting to compose haiku. Next I started including flash fiction, usually around 100-200 words, which I fondly imagined could approach something like prose poetry.
And then recently I signed up to a creative writing course on writing and appreciating poetry, which required regular homework on set themes, forms or genres, all inspired by short form poetry published by established poets. Needless to say, some of these have found their way onto Zenrinji posts, and I’m rather pleased with a handful of them.
‘I Hunted Dragons Once’ is based on a piece by the late Seamus Heaney, but while his exemplar was based on childhood memories in rural Ireland, mine was set in urban Hong Kong. We were then introduced (via Dylan Thomas’ famous ‘Do not go gentle’) to the stricter forms of the villanelle, and I managed two of my own, both linked thematically to Spring: ‘When Winter’s Snow At Last’ and the more intricate ‘Welcome spring’s on its way’.
We were asked to compose a piece using repeating rhythms and/or rhymes; I responded with an angry piece ‘You’re having a laugh’ which largely sums up my political views on current events. Finally for this post, but not last for this sequence, comes a poem based on a personal experience: ‘He lay there’ was the one I found hardest to craft, constantly tinkering with it even though the initial ideas and phrases came quickly enough.
I’ve confessed myself lazy; I suggested poetry could be trite or pretentious; and yet I show myself to be a bit of a hypocrite by actually writing the darn thing myself. What is this quintessence of dust? A blogger? Or just a blagger?
If you too term yourself a poet then set to: write a note and show it!