Shadow stands up #3


Augmented reality
was what Donna talked about
on the way to lunch in the
food-court on Ponsonby Road
but I forgot all about
it when she next told me that
the mummified body of
an Egyptian princess had
been diagnosed with a heart
condition at forty years
of age despite a presumed
diet of vegetables,
fruit, and fish, pretty much what
we eat most of the time and
believe we're doing enough
thereby to earn a decent
stretch. Memory, though, what a
shadowy mystery that
is, how it mars the surface
of the present it then stands
up in, augmented, a dead
presence that should have lasted.

At the Albany campus of Massey University last Thursday I gave a talk about the differences - for me, writing them - between essays, fiction, and poetry. Of course they cross over each other all the time, but my basic distinction is that essays begin with a thesis and you think with it or against it, fiction begins with an imaginative situation and uses story-telling of one kind or another to see where that might go, whereas writing poetry is a bit like riding a bike down hill, there comes a point when you can't be sure if you're turning the pedals or if they're making your legs go round. (This is John Ashbery's idea - incidentally a favourite of Bill Manhire's as well, we talked about while we were snowed in at Dunedin a few weeks back.) It's at the point where you're not sure who's driving the thing that the excursion gets seriously interesting and enjoyable, and is probably going ok, though where exactly may not be obvious.

So far so good.


Bill Kirk said...

Thanks for sharing that perspective and interpretive definition of what poetry is. That view feels quite good, actually. I don't fancy myself much of a poet, mind you. Mostly I write in rhyme and occasionally in non-rhyming verse. But I like the play of the writing of it---poetry, that is, in all its forms---as the words appear on the screen before me, somehow capturing a particular moment in time that struck me in a particular way. Bravo!

Trevor said...

I like this poem, I was drawn to it by the food court of which I haven't been to in a while. Check out my poem about the same foodcourt.