Friday, 12 June 2009

Making Poetic Leaps

Making Poetic Leaps...onomatopoeia and A Poem about Happiness 

Reading some of Robert Bly's books recently including "Leaping Poetry" has brought into clarity thoughts that have long hovered beneath the surface of my mind yet have not been able to find articulation.

I suppose all good writing tends to do that.

It can be said that whenever we undertake the writing of a poem we are in fact making "leaps" between the conscious and unconscious minds.

A good poetic line draws secrets from the deep like a free diving pearl fisher.

This means that poetry is able to make free associations between seemingly far flung ideas.

In this place (which the poet Novalis refers to as the seat of the soul) underlying essential truths about our humanity become realized and brought into the crystal waters of clarity.

Memories, dreams, far away hopes, our inner child, fairy tales, ancient stories bound in human history, our connection to the earth and the divine, all return to us through the words of our poetry.

I love sharing my love of poetry with my girls.

I don't teach formal grammar, nor do I ever intend to.

I truly believe that grammar can be learned intuitively, when given the chance to explore words through the medium of stories, poems, factual prose, plays and oral narration.

To teach grammar separately creates a fissure between two linguistic worlds that can only be instinctively and internally understood when brought into relation and context with one another.

The other day Bujana wrote a poem using an object (namely a lemon) to explore how her senses are the tools we use to understand and describe the natural world.

I loved how the words she came up with were so tactile and so qualitatively onomatopoetic.

Children just instinctively love onomatopoeia I think of a poem we wrote earlier on in the year together as I began to introduce her to the idea of how sound can resonate within words and ideas....

MUD : Squelchy, squishy, Squashy
WATER: Splashy, sploshy, Washy
AIR : Buzzy, Fuzzy, Shhhhhh
FIRE: Hiss, Crackle, Crinkle
RAIN: Drip, Drop, Tip, Tap

So now I'm slowly bringing her toward more abstract association.

Instead of an object (like a lemon) we are going to start to explore a feeling with our senses...

The feeling of the day is HAPPINESS :0)

Here is what Bujana came up with...


lOOKS Bright like a fiery sun
SOUNDS like it's laughing
SMELLS like a rose's perfume
TASTES like warm bread 

FEELS like a hot cup of tea

I just love the line "HAPPINESS SOUNDS like it's laughing"
It really does!

I invited Bujana to paint her poem to
 *make a leap* between the word sound and visual imagination.

Her painting is at the top of this post.

Although the free association or "leaps" in this kind of purely "sensual" poetry are limited to a point, they are a gentle introduction for small children.

They project view, of the colour and texture of the wide and wonderful poetic landscape.

When Bujana thinks of happiness linked to a taste linked to warm memory of bread, of being leaps are being made!