Shreds of Thought: Rhythm and Reasons and Life

I love the shape of words when they are under the spell of a poet. Every word fights for its place on the page and only the most potent survive. Perhaps better than reading poetry, though, is hearing it performed. There is passion in its delivery; rhythm and reason and life transferred directly from the poet’s body unto their congregation.

Good poetry conveys visceral knowledge that we all share deep down whether we realise it or not. It summons something common to have yet rare to behold, and teases it up towards the surface. It taps into a stream most of us have paved over with asphalt, and brings forth the purity of spring water. The taste will be bitter for some, but that’s on us and our tainted expectations of what truth should taste like. Extreme impacts like violence and drugs are as much a part of the human experience as love and security.

I used to write poetry to explore things I could understand in no other terms. I mythologised myself. Put my deepest feelings into symbol and code. And only my mind was the key that would translate the true meaning. My rhythm and reason and life. I made only one copy of each poem, typed out on an old-fashioned typewriter complete with overtyped errors and emphasis thumped into the paper by my strongest fingertips. Those poems were stolen one day, by a man who wanted my heart in a box. Perhaps, in a sense, he got what he craved.

I wonder, do poems expire? Once on paper in their complete form do they begin to rot without the vital life force of their creators’ key? Perhaps that’s why so many great works are printed on limited runs and cannot always be bought via the usual channels. Perhaps the words leave the pages behind and sink back into the ground, dissolving completely: eternally free now their job is done. Or perhaps they live on in their human hosts, kept close to the chest, ready to re-emerge in alternative configurations in some other place and time.

15 thoughts on “Shreds of Thought: Rhythm and Reasons and Life

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      1. Interesting. I think the same of my paintings – at some point I have to walk away and call them done, but I know that really they’re in one possible state of many. It reminds me of our quest for happiness.

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  1. Bongos. All great modernist poetry needs bongo accompaniment. Much the same as Byron needs Baroque lutes and insider knowledge of Shakespeare’s words games in his sonnets would make a hooker blush. Good poetry is like a multi layer cake or Escher. The more you look it, read it, turn it sideways, the more stories you get. Like Bridge of Sighs, a phrase turned poetically by Byron and a record by Robin Trower named after a racehorse. Poetry lies in the reader/listener experiential rapport with the words. Paintings that breathe.

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    1. I disagree on the musical accompaniment, I think poetry is an art to be expressed by the vocal chords alone. Some lyricists are poets of course, but they make a very different experience of it. Turning it around to get different stories – yes. I get that. And I always say novels are as much about what the reader makes them as the writer. For some reason this train of thought went down a different route – following the idea that the poems were inextricably part of the poet.

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      1. No fan of the Beat Generation, the heyday of beatniks, bongos and extemporaneous free verse? Where would internet poetry be without them? You missed the rest of the thinly veiled humor about how so much great historical literature is treated more like costume drama than art, how shotgunned word splatters and sophomoric couplets residing under sunset HD wallpaper seem to rule the day.


  2. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this post!!! It is absolutely beautiful!!!! Poetry is part of the fabric of who I am, and you have written about it here, better and more poetically that I ever could. Thank you!

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