Imagery and a new poem/excercise – Dawn’s Sadnes

I am doing exercises in my writing using more metaphor and imagery in my poems. I have very mixed feeling about using too much imagery, which is the trend in so much of today’s poetry. The number one easy comment you get in poetry workshops when people don’t have anything else to say is, “Well, you could use a little more imagery” or ” I really like all the imagery of the poem”. Is that what poems have boiled down to? It is fitting for a world that is inundated with a constant barrage of images that imagery itself in poetry is at risk of losing it’s punch.

For example, perhaps chopping vegetables reminds one poet of their mothers love and their own frustrated sexuality. It doesnt remind me of that and I really could care less whether they are red onions or white. Tell me about missing your mother, convey how it really feels to want to be twenty again – tackle the hard stuff – don’t just give me chopped vegetables. Give me meat of meaning, I can handle it. Poets should use imagery in order to further meaning, not to water down meaning.

I am not saying that imagery and metaphor have no place in poetry. I am saying that they should be used careful and with respect to conveying the universals that poetry is supposed to tap into. I believe that poetry is succumbing to the addiction that we as a civilization have on imagery for it’s own sake or for the sake of selling. We consume imagery with huge appetites. We are becoming desensitized to imagery in our daily lives and in fact need stronger and stronger imagery to reach us. This takes the power away from the meaning and significance of imagery. Poetry reflects the world it is written in, this is true. But in the case of contemporary obsession with irrelevant detail – is that a good thing? Maybe so, maybe in some poems it is so – but we need to ask ourselves that every time we use an image in a poem.

When imagery is used too heavily and without real respect it runs the risk of losing it’s power to convey meaning.

All that said, I was told that I needed to use more imagery in my poems (of course) so I have been practicing it. I hope to take my more discursive style and temper it with select imagery in the future but you have to learn a tool to learn to use it well. The best I can say about my own poetry is that it is in a constant state of growth.

Here is a short, simple poem I just finished about change. Pardon my metaphor…

Dawn’s Sadness

All things rise,
With memories
Of dreams fading
And the night,
Soft and mysterious,
Becomes secret
Once again.

Morning light
Chases slow
The night back
Into sleep.
Let it be, let it
Slip with long
Breaths over fog
And shadow.

Dawn’s fragile
Sadness fitting
For the comings
And goings, the
Half truths of day,
The half dreams
Of night. Night
The manifestation
Of Dreams and
Day the giver
Of shadows.

© 2012 Sandra E. Walton

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