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Tuesday 1 November 2011


Remember, you aren’t dealing with a novel;
a poem is not a fine carpet of words.

Rather it is a path across a field
to what might turn out to be a wood

or a line of cottages. It wasn’t written
for you, like a note on the kitchen table, explaining

Back later – Adrian phoned – Buy milk. It says
something that you can’t quite understand

about the colour of the sky. Some poets
will casually deploy words like eldritch, ontic,

topos and chthonic that may cause
the reader to turn away or turn to other books.

It is not absolutely certain why, or if
this is deliberate. A poem is

a doomed struggle against the world, a series
of failures that add up to something more important

than its success. If you choose to walk through a poem
as you would an unfamiliar neighbourhood,

noticing perhaps two lovers at an uncurtained window,
then you will be more likely to return

to it, aware this time of other things,
the names of streets, the habits of local dogs.

C. J. Allen 2011

Poem is probably accounted for by my spending more time reading and writing and thinking about poems than is actually healthy for a grown man. If it’s trying to do anything, then I hope Poem encourages people to feel more comfortable with those aspects of poems which aren’t immediately or easily understood. I think about it as a kind of postcard to the reader.  C. J. Allen

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