Friday, August 07, 2009

Rethabile's questions

Rethabile at Poefrika has put up some questions for poets. I'm going to add some answers. Pop over there and offer him yours, as well. ("I" in the last question is Rethabile, not me.) 

Question one: Why do you write poetry (or literature) at all?

Because if I don't, confined divine inspiration will burn a hole in my head.

Question two: What is your favourite poem? You know, the one you'd have loved to have written, the one by whose standard you base all other works of art. If your life depended on answering this question, what poem would you suggest to the person holding the knife to your throat?

That's a tough one-- but if my life really depended on it, Shelley's "Ozymandias".

Question three: According to you, what is the state of poetry today? Is poetry flourishing or dying?

The writing of poetry is flourishing. The market for poetry is being splintered into increasingly narrow niches. The craft of poetry continues to develop into newer areas such as multi-media and performance poetry, without entirely losing its grip on traditional technique; however, the proportion of poets who attach importance to craft may not be on the rise.

See also Bruce Sterling's comments. I don't agree with everything he says, and some things that I do agree with I don't think are bad. But there's much food for thought.

Question four: What kind of poetry (or literature) do you dislike, and would not consider buying?

Confessional (as distinct from autobiographical). By that I mean poetry that has nothing to offer other than the poet's own experiences and responses.

Question five: Between the styles of Come (by Makhosana Xaba) and word speaks (by Kojo Baffoe) which do you prefer? Care to tell us why? Obviously, Makhosana and Kojo aren't required to answer this question.

I like them both, but would use them for different purposes. Style should be a tool, not a straitjacket. 

In both these poems, there are deliberate stylistic choices that I think enhance the content.  In Come, the varied line length gives the poem a playful, relaxed feeling that a stricter stanza structure might have stifled. In word speaks, the absence of capitalization, punctuation etc. adds to the general bleakness of the piece, and also calls attention to the fact that the speaker is in fact a word, sort of an ur-word that precedes (and will exist after) language, therefore need not (or cannot) observe typographic conventions.

Question six: What was the last poetry book you bought?

Ray Bradbury's "Farewell Summer". Don't tell me that isn't poetry.

Question seven: Where do you go for poetry on the web?

Check my sidebar for the list of blogs I follow.

Question eight: Do you talk poetry (or literature) with friends and family? "Hi honey -- Hey, I read this incredible poem today..."

Occasionally with my husband, rarely with my friends-- although I do post a poem a month in our office, and sometimes people want to talk about them.

Question nine: What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning poet (or writer in general)? One. What would you tell them to do or not to do?


Question ten: What line comes to you after the following two verses (in other words, please write the third verse -- these are spontaneous lines from me and are no part of any poem I'm writing or will be writing).

When the light from the lantern
beamed and fell upon the child,
abcd efg hijkl mno p qrst uvwxyz

he scribbled knowing he had only
moments of light in which to practice
his precious letters 

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

Excellent! I'm in the US and will only be able to post this when I get back...