Sunday, 9 May 2021

Neil Surkan : part two

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

My hunch is that poems are often suggestive (some poets would say “associative”) in a way that requests a unique form of attention from reader and writer alike. Some of the poems I find most exhilarating have such miniscule tensions and/or echoes running through them that they could seem – AHH – boring. I have many awkward memories of times I read a poem to someone I love and then looked up to realize that they were completely unmoved. Take Jamie McKendrick’s’ poem “Ill Wind,” which ends with the lines “And though the leaves were still I heard the wind / snicking the links with its casual shears”: I lose it over the word snicking. I think it’s gobsmackingly apt. But you can’t heave the poem “Ill Wind” at someone who is in the middle of texting their mom, or trying to center a photograph in its frame, or enjoying a memory of having sex outdoors. Maybe the “accomplishment” of poetry is also its fault: it waits so patiently to grab the attention, to suggest, that for some it never does.

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