Catherine Hales: hazard or fall
Published 15 April 2010
Paperback, 80pp, 8.5x5.5ins, £8.95 / $15
I think the necessity of poetry is to irritate, to evoke the uncomfortable response. Scraps of language from different places and registers—radio, tv, conversations, lawyer-speak, etc.—coalesce and collide, creating meaning from their juxtaposition, meaning that is not subject to control or definition but (among other things including just being what it is) questions the rules by which we are obliged to live, like grammar, syntax, meaning. Look in vain for (linear) narrative, for anecdote, for epiphanies, for messages, for making-the world-a-better-place: the world is a mess and language is messy and the world is language and any attempt to tidy it up with poetry is falsification. There is no utopian vision—utopias tend to end in concentration camps and piles of skulls. Putting the poem into something resembling conventional form is thus supremely ironic. It's like putting the genie back into the lamp. I like the subversive possibilities inherent in the tension between the fact of the poem as form, as an object on the page, and its necessary conceptual rejection of form; the irony implicit in calling a fourteen-line poem a sonnet, for example. At the same time, form gives meaning somewhere to start from. If something then stirs beyond and behind the words and if that something is glimpsed but cannot be grasped, like a smudge of smoke on the horizon, and if some people choose to believe that that something is akin to what they choose with imaginative shortcoming to call god, then so be it. I prefer to call it image in something like the Poundian sense. —Catherine Hales
(taken from the anthology Infinite Difference)
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