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Poetry: a post-abstract-ambiguietical perspective

Andrew Clements

Poetry was conceived from the loins of oral communication, long before technology’s cultural orgasm of physical documentation. If indeed poetic technique used to serve, making words stay — then what is it now?

Druids and shamans, teachers and parents of old, and throughout memory, embellished messages in their bed- and fire-side stories. The egoistic echo of Beowulf’s battle cry, the odysseys of Ulysses and Hal. The persona of Lao Tzu. The parables of Christ, the miracles and monsters of every other mythology and pathology we’ve inherited, are little post-its that have survived the fickle confusion that constitutes the doctrine of our collective past.

Poetry today is to some extent the indulgence of egomania, perhaps not as bad a thing as it sounds. It is also the window-dressed questions-and-answers of people. Real people, engaged in sparring with experiential and contextual disparity in makeshift arenas of bite-sized texts. Flirtatious presentations, private moments of honesty and aspiration for countless teenage delinquents in their messed-up bedrooms, and I cringe to admit, also the seemingly superficial sentimentalities emailed and endlessly forwarded between bored desk-top jockeys and occasionally the self-satisfied self-righteous soap-box sessions of aesthetically inclined socio-political/environmental activists.

It is the art and discipline that attempts to seduce questionable attention spans, to solicit and invoke emotional and cerebral relation to communicate and I suppose vindicate opinion and sentiment, in quasi-protocols of literature that have been, more than stylistically speaking, to hell and back.

Poems are stretched moments; frozen frames of reflection in the increasingly animated genre of contemporary dialogue and discourse, amid the chaos of proliferating communicative media.

To quote one of my favourite poems

... it is a poetry of sorts
an intercourse
of meaning and noise
knots and beads
on lacerated string,

poems are the beautiful dance of fact and fancy, at best a burning sacrament on the altar of truth.

Pictures can paint words by the thousand — poems will paint pictures forever.

Afrikaans version and Glossary of Terms available on request.

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