Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Handful of Sand

I'm always putting things into poems
where I think they'll keep ...

These are the first two lines of Reginald Shepherd's poem "A Handful of Sand" (like all the ones I've quoted over the past few weeks, it's from his collection Fata Morgana). Again, my response to the poem (at least the one I am developing here) is more of an association from than a reading of the poem. In this case, it was nice to hear a poet articulate something that I have sometimes felt: one purpose of poems for the poet is to act as mnemonics to help one remember things that one does not want to forget.

If this becomes the poet's only reason to write poems, then it's probably time to stop trying to get published, since what one finds memorable may or may not be something one can turn into a successful poem. More than just this desire is necessary—but it's an interesting desire nonetheless.

(Sometimes I get the feeling that some published poets don't distinguish between anecdotes and poems ...)

I hope that RS is continuing to recover well from his serious illness last month. In the light of that illness, the last line of "A Handful of Sand" could have been painful to re-read now:

I will not entirely die.

1 comment:

Kate Evans said...

That's great what you say about distinguishing between anecdotes and poems. Reminds me of what Scott Cairns said at a workshop once. Some people, when they've had an experience, think it becomes a poem by merely adding line breaks.