An Author's Assemblage: Brief Notes and Notices

The accumulation of posts to this web page serves merely as an author’s assemblage of brief notes and notices: the collection of informal bits of information, quotations, and observations gathered as one way to display a personal reflection of perceptions on poetry, publication, and related selections of material drawn from my perspectives as a poet or professor of literature and creative writing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Billy Collins on Transparency and Disorientation in Poetry

"’Transparency’ has become a popular word recently in all sorts of areas, usually in the sense of revealing secrets. A good poem, no matter how plain the language, will always have a little secret it is not telling us; and that, it could be said, is what makes poetry different from prose. What both genres have in common is diction and syntax. I tend to use a simple diction (few trips to the dictionary) and straightforward syntax (I write in sentences). But as the poem moves ahead, I am trying to nudge it into somewhat mysterious or at least hypothetical territory. The experience of reading the poem should contain a feeling of shifting (or being shifted) from the familiar to the strange, from coziness to disorientation. To reread the poem would be to re-experience that shift. In just about every poem of mine, we know exactly where we are in the opening lines, but I would argue that explaining where we are at the end would present more of a challenge.”—From an interview of Billy Collins at Littoral, the journal of the Key West Literary Seminar

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