Poetry? No, I was talking about this article.
Note: Since this is an article about poetry, it’s going to get weird and I have no clue whether it will actually make any sense or not. It probably won’t. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you LOL!
Anyway, that aside, I’d like to talk about what I call “subjective poetry”. Whilst I’m certainly not the first person to write this kind of poetry and I don’t really know quite enough about poetry to know if there’s already a proper name for it (I mean, subjective poetry isn’t quite beat poetry, modernist poetry or transcendentalist poetry), I thought that I’d try to write about it because – as well as writing very visual poetry occasionally- I also write subjective poetry too.
Or, rather, subjective poetry emerges from me occasionally.
Although it can be cathartic to write, subjective poetry isn’t the usual kind of intensely emotional poetry that people scrawl in their diaries when they’re feeling miserable.
A good subjective poem should evoke emotions and interesting mental images in whoever reads it, but also leave the reader completely confused about the meaning of the poem at the same time.
Subjective poetry is emotional poetry, but with all of the meaning hidden behind the surface of whatever mental images appear in your own mind when you think of the things you need to write poetry about. Instead of trying to translate these mental images into descriptions that other people will understand, you just put them on the page and let them speak for themselves without any explanation.
Instead of an open and “honest” poetic description of your emotions and/or memories, a subjective poem is more of a symbolic collage of brief descriptions and images (whether realistic or surreal) that mean a lot to you, but might mean something totally different to your readers.
A subjective poem is the kind of poem that is completely incomprehensible to everyone except you – and, because of this, it ends up being the most honest form of poetry in existence.
Basically, this is a type of poetry where everything is almost in code. It’s encrypted poetry. Like a numbers station, the content of the poem is visible for everyone to see – but the meaning can only be truly understood by very few people. Usually only one. You.
And, because of this, there is no need for self-censorship. No need to hold back your emotions (even from yourself) or try to write something that will have universal appeal. As I said earlier, it’s the most honest form of poetry in existence.
But, at the same time, it’s not really the kind of poetry that will win you many awards or really be liked by most people. Even so, subjective poetry is honest emotional poetry that you can actually publish without the fear of what people will think.
It can masquerade as avant-garde poetry, it can masquerade as clever wordplay and – most importantly – because it’s almost completely meaningless to everyone else, it forces other people to add their own meanings to it.
It’s encrypted poety and it is beautiful.
So, what does it actually look like? Well, it looks a bit like this:
(Taken from a poem I wrote in 2012 called “Subconscious Seventeen”.)
Cinema fantasies, deeply bizarre,
reading “On The Road”, test-driving virtual cars,
mechanical guitars, dreaming of being a rockstar,
splatterpunk novels singing songs of blood and scars.
Tribute band tinnitus, headbanging by the speakers
to the same music on the journey, repeated.
Memories of guitars, memories of Wiccans
who knew the guy with the tickets.
Spending time in forum cafes,
eyes over shoulders, always looking away
copied to floppy, read like gospel
to console, distract, enlighten and conceal.
Breakfast On Pluto before visiting the dojo,
hardcover purple, another judo throw
familiar emotions, hajime! Yame!
Too different perhaps? Bow as if to pray.
A charity shop dame, a fifties belle
twitching like a shoplifter, nervous as hell
faded floral, 80s office wear, size sixteen
through trial and error, money and dreams.
As you can see, it’s just a random jumble of descriptions and images (which happen to rhyme) and, whilst every line of this extract has a deep personal meaning to me, it’ll probably just confuse most people who read it.
But, if you absolutely have to know what it means, the full poem kind of explains itself in the last verse (and in the description below it).
Trust me, these kinds of poems are brilliantly fun to write. Even if they confuse the hell out of almost everyone else.
Sorry for writing such a weird article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂