Say It Subtle

by Kevin   May 28, 2005


Ok. The number one thing I say to people in my comments in here is that I liked what they were writing about, but....I though they could have been a little bit more creative in the way the put their thoughts across...not quite so blatant and simplistic..unless the content of the poem demanded such a style. And so to this essay, hopefully for you all, some handy hints as to how to do this.

I prefer to do things by example, so if you will allow I’ll use my own poetry as a medium for my advice. Mainly because for the purposes of what I’m trying to convey, it's perfect in that I know all the changes that went into each line as I struggled with possibilities.

Right then, straight to it, lets look at two lines of poetry.

"thin ice is the tip of
such an iceberg Freud would stammer"

Now then, these two lines are a metaphorical condensement of these thoughts:

The state others see me in is only scratching the surface [ the visible iceberg ] of a much deeper set of feelings so powerful and intense, they would cause a psychologist to mince his words. Also Freud came up with the iceberg theory."

Dramatic eh? But i hope you see how it can work with a little thought. As I said there's nothing wrong with simple as you see it poetry, if it suits the subject material, but, on the whole, if you can get people thinking...you know, bring them along on the journey as they discover and understand by working out the things you are gently suggesting in the poem, i think they will enjoy and remember your work much more, so it's worth a try.

From the same poem, two more lines.

"precious tongues well past silver
assail a slightly saving silence"

Have a wee think if you like about what you think i mean by these two very short sentences...really try and consider all the points i’ve squeezed in there....ok..here's what i meant.

The person i’m talking about is very dear to me, i love them, hence the precious tongues reference, but they are also "silver tongued", meaning they are very clever with words and debating issues. The second line lets you know that they are using this skill to attack me and my silence verbally. A silence i was using to save myself from the onslaught of their words.

So you have two examples of how you can convey a pretty large amount of information without actually say it all. It can be hard though when you sit down to write, and if like me you generally only feel the need to write when something is hurting or confusing you....YOU WANT IT OUT AND EXPRESSED...NOW!....but just relax...it's not going anywhere...and if it really is something you need to express, let it stew for a minute or so and build up flavour and power. Let that amazing brain of yours find other ways to let it out in words, it will tunnel it's way through, just don't blurt it out like this:

"I hate you so much
you don't keep in touch"

Ok, this is fine for a ranting poem, but there is nothing hidden...and quite frankly...it's boring..you can all do better...and so can I.

As a closing poetic parable. Imagine you are sitting in a dimly lit smokey room. You are sat in the corner completely relaxed. Suddenly someone rushes past you and out a door, and after a few seconds you feel the need to write down in a poem what just happened.

How would you do it?...what metaphor or key would you use to draw people into it...that split second.

I'd use the smoke patterns they left behind...I’d infer that they were there without saying it.

Saying without saying. Give it a try.

Peace. Kev.

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