2023-03-25: small poems

i've been reading an old poetry anthology lately. heaney and hughes, the rattle bag. their favourite poems, alphabetical by title. i'm not really a fan so far: far too many bland, rhyming poems, the kind, perhaps, you might have learned as a british schoolboy somewhere in the first half of the 20th century. heaney talked elsewhere about how he and hughes decided what to include; but the inclusion of a bunch of imagist work has triggered a couple of small poems of my own, for which i'm grateful.

not bad for a $1 find at a used book fair.

ezra pound has always been a real interesting figure for me: when i was younger, i was taken (as i think a lot of younger poets are) by his imagistic work. i remember taking a writing class in grade ten or eleven, and we all had to write imagistic poems. i was hooked. but my draw to pound wasn't just those poems; years ago i received as a gift a small selected of his work, edited by thom gunn. maybe my favourite of his is 'the river merchant's wife: a letter'. even when i was much younger he was a very troubling figure, what with the fascism, and anti-semitism. but he remains a giant of 20th century poetry for helping banish perfect rhyme and iambic pentameter (at least for a time), and ushering in modernism.

as i've gotten older i've found his work less interesting. i see his work as an editor or selector far more important than the work he actually produced. when i was younger i went through an imagist phase, and then the obligatory beat phase. kind of like trying on an older sibling's clothes. but while neither of these became a deep concern for me, they reverberate in different ways: the former with its extreme compression, the latter for the breathlessness of its lines. and so coming back to any of these poems (in the rattle bag it was 'and the days are not full enough') feels a bit like coming home. like sitting down with who i used be. and over the last week or two, writing some poems together.