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January 29, 2008

Spaces in a Print Poem

The numbered stanzas of a poem may imply that the spaces between each stanza are longer than what the actual page is capable of showing. This is one of the limits of the print page. There is also an uncertainty in the units each space is measured in. These could be seconds, hours, years, or maybe inches or miles.

Because we are unsure about the amount of space that links each stanza together, we can only imagine the duration of the spaces. In “3 X 111 TRISTYCHS” (p. 95 Poems for the Millennium), the numbers of each stanza are not ordered in any particular way, at least to the reader. Whatever the unit of measurement is (if it is a unit of measurement at all), the reader travels to the next stanza at a constant speed, because visually, they are all evenly spaced. However, the numbers of each stanza don’t imply this. Some gaps are so large that I wonder if the writer is pretending that stanzas are actually left out. This suggested absence allows the reader to imagine what might have been there, or what could be there.

In “Blanco,” By Octavio Paz, stanzas aren’t numbered, but spaces appear between actual words. Some lines start on the right side of the page, some on the left. It is as though the reader is given a map to follow, as directions are implicitly given so we can navigate through each word. The gaps between some of the stanzas are like stop signs on our journey, visual and vocal pauses. Some stanzas are in bold, some in italics (I am not exactly what to make of these differentiations). They also lie side by side to one another, so I wonder if one is meant to be read first. I wonder what might happen, how the meaning might change, if the italicized part is read first, then the bold, or vice versa. What might change if we backtrack and go in reverse? This may be taking a road less traveled, one that is more difficult, but perhaps this is the more exciting or illuminating route. Its uncommonness may provide a different perspective. The ambiguity of the spacing lends multiple routes, I think, to the final lines of a poem. This is something I appreciate — the fact that there is more than one way to approach and come to achieve something.

Posted by pbali at 03:11 PM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2008

Metaphor as a technological device

Metaphor serves a very important purpose in the life of a poem. It is the quickest way to travel from point A to B. In fact, the transition is so fluid it almost goes unseen. We may be unaware of the transition, but once we reach point B we know that we have made some kind of journey.

Here are a few:

“Grey trees whose lungs had filled up with winter
suddenly exhaled a breath of leaves”- James McGonigal

Langston Hughes- Dreams
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Stanley Kunitz- First Love

At his incipient sun
The ice of twenty winters broke,
Crackling, in her eyes.

Her mirroring, still mind,
That held the world (made double) calm,
Went fluid, and it ran.

There was a stir of music,
Mixed with flowers, in her blood;
A swift impulsive balm

From obscure roots;
Gold bees of clinging light
Swarmed in her brow.

Her throat is full of songs,
She hums, she is sensible of wings
Growing on her heart.

She is a tree in spring
Trembling with the hope of leaves,
Of which the leaves are tongues.

Metaphor can also be illustrated visually, as this painting shows:

Posted by pbali at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

What is technology?

Technology is a form of advancement. It suggests that the kind of movement occurring is efficient when it comes to completing a task or reaching a certain destination. When we limit the amount of time and energy we expel in a task by using technology we are in effect, maximizing the success and quality of our outcome. Usually. This is where the dangers of technology factor in. Embracing technology means giving up control. We let machines and intricate devices take over while we let our hands and minds rest. This is where I begin to wonder how much technology is too much?

Our mark on a product goes unseen when technology plays its role. The personal attachment is gone. There are no fingerprints, no evidence of human interaction. Then again, just because we cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Perhaps the technology itself is the biggest and most visible sign of humanity’s lasting imprint. It is proof that somewhere at sometime people came together to become co-makers, their product or plan for doing things is a result of their ideas.

Posted by pbali at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)