Sunday, 9 March 2014

3D Poetry

Alan Michael Parker offers five "theses" on how to organize a poetry manuscript. His fourth? "A book of poems needs to aspire to the condition of three-dimensionality." He explains:
Yes, readers read a volume from left to right; however, books of poems are also read jumpily, intermittently, whimsically, peripatetically, and other -lys. I think that reading a good book of poems is more like going to an art gallery than sitting in a theatre and watching a ballet. So here’s what I do, and what I tell my students to do: build a shed, pay extra rent for a month, lease a Self-Storage unit, squat in a cave, disown a child or a parent—whatever it takes to get yourself a room of your own, do so, and then wallpaper it with your poems. Hang them up, live in them, move them around, trade teams. Walk into the room where your poems are hanging, cover one eye, and look at them cock-eyed. Step out of the room. Come back in, cover the other eye, and look at your poems moon-eyed. Step out of the room. Come back in, close your eyes, and look at your poems dream-eyed, picture which poems are where. Admit you’re obsessed. Go get help. Step back into your room and swap the first poem for the last, or move other poems around arbitrarily—reorder them again. Live inside the book as though it were itself a room. 

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