Monday, 11 March 2013
The best fit
Inspiration for the article came from attending monthly workshops of her poetry group (Slipstream poets). A recent meeting focused on the importance of selecting the right word. This is a key skill to any writer, but if you analyse a poem or piece of prose you soon realise every writer chooses their own 'right' words as a best fit. We looked at several poems by famous names where key words had been blanked out. In assessing what words we would insert demonstrated that everyone thinks differently, as we all came up with surprisingly different choices. It also demonstrated that true poets come from a different planet, as we rarely chose the words they actually wrote.
For example we reviewed the first stanza of Philip Larkin's poem 'Church Going' as follows. And were asked to consider what words might best fit into the gaps... (note: the number of spaces doesn't indicate letters)
"Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door ....1.... shut.
Another church: matting, seats and stone.
And little books: .....2.. of flowers, cut
For Sunday, .....3... now; some brass and stuff
Up at the .....4.... end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty .....5.... silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in .....6..... reverence."
Have a go then look below at the words Larkin considered as his best fit. How did you do?
This is probably a good game to play at Xmas, with a bunch of poets of course!
And you could try this final exercise. Pick a picture or photo and pen a few lines of poetry to describe the scene. Then blank out several words and swap the piece with another writer. Each writer then fills in the gaps of their partner's poem. It's quite astonishing to see the end results. From one piece of writing you end up with two entirely different poems simply because each writer selects quite different words - despite looking at the same picture/photo for inspiration. Shows how unique our writing choices can be.