What’s Not The Poem

Most of my poems focus on the what’s-not; it’s how I think and grope among whispers and glimmers.  That’s not really what Dylan Thomas is saying in the quote below (thanks, Deep Glamour) but it reminds me of it.

What Thomas says seems true to me of all forms of art; there’s something liminal about it, a portal between known and unknown, between obvious  and mysterious, between what is expressed with music, words, paint, clay, movement — and what’s expressed otherwise.

You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick, and say to yourself, when the works are laid out before you, the vowels, the consonants, the rhymes or rhythms, ‘Yes, this is it. This is why the poem moves me so. It is because of the craftsmanship.’ But you’re back again where you began.

You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.

— Dylan Thomas, Poetic Manifesto (1961)


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