Tuesday, April 20, 2021

notes on poetry and horror

I am deeply enjoying my daily poems, the bird artist (or at least what it's tentaively titled at present.)  There were some threads I had separated out of another project that I wanted to  play with when I got a chance, and that chance was somehow now.  With the pressure on to produce daily, I think it stretches me to travel a little further into the project each day. To build the bits and pieces and find some sort of framework therein.  This is true with all projects I suppose, especially those that are more on the narrative side than the lyric.The premise?  There were elements of mechanical creatures in unusual creatures, but I culled many of those bits out on the rewrite.  That story, about two sisters had enough going on without another storyline mucking up the works, especially since as it first existed, was just way too long and unruly. .  It's definitely a close cousin to that series, and will no doubt fit nicely into the automagic book manuscript eventually.  

As with a lot of projects, from that book particularly, things got dark kind of fast. When I first was writing victorian-feel poems back in the early aughts, things were a little less overly gothic. You had errata, which in so many ways was about genre--especially the victorian gothic--but the poems were less bloody and filled with violence. I sometimes, when things get dark,  think about how my writing is more influenced by horror novels and films than actual "poetry" most times, and this makes sense. (and definitely something that I talk about in dark country.) It's a violence that was always there, even in the fever almanac, but it was less overt. It may be that my first introduction to poetry I actually liked was Poe.  And yet, I'm not sure I would call my work horror poetry, becuase it's not all that, but it may be the world I am trying to create. Even in a lighter book like major characters in minor films which is set more in a contemporary, urban setting where there are less ghosts of the usual kind. 

Perhaps one thing that lends itself well to horror and gothicism in poetry is certain temporal freedoms you don't always get in more traditional storytelling, A-B-C type plots. Not that this can't be done well in other genres (and some of my favorite horror movies and shows play with time.) but poets are much more likely to do this by their very nature as fragments rather than wholes.  I could write a story of the plot details of something like the bird artist (though in this case, I am discovering them as I go) but it would feel different..more like I story I am leading the reader on than one they are collecting breadcrumbs as we go like a fairy tale. There is the treacherous path through the woods and the very cold children, but each new bit is something to be discovered rather than laid out politely.

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