Saturday, November 27, 2010

Technique as a travelling bag

Teaching Don Juan today, a colleague pointed out how Byron compares his verse to a portmanteau or travelling bag, and how apt this is: the ottava rima is so robust a form, into which almost any experience can be poured. Of course once poured in it tends to take a certain shape; but that's what it is to have a style.

It got me thinking how inadequate my own technique is to such an analogy. The way I've been writing poems over the last year or so has produced some work I'm happy with, but I have noticed that it keeps taking me back to the same narrow band of tones and modes: elegy, mainly. It's not something I can travel with, in the long term. So, time to stitch together a new form, that I can take with me where I'm going.


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