A poem is another home for words, one of varying size but where the consideration of weight must be applied stringently, not just in order to avoid collapse, but to provide shelter to thoughts we want to survive. To build more with less without anything missing.
When I wrote the poem Windblown, it was originally in couplets, with enjambment leading from one stanza to another, following the lead of many of the poems in the collection it came from, The Tantramar Re-vision. I had found the combination of those two techniques to be suddenly liberating to my own writing and so I followed them, successively and productively.
When it came to Windblown though, the poem looked fine when done but did not feel completed. Literary techniques give the writer a chance to focus ahead without worrying about distractions along the periphery, the way a highway channels a driver straight to a chosen destination, speeding past a perhaps more interesting sideroad.
But looking back, it was obvious that the words needed to float and be carried over the page the way seeds and sound are scattered in wind, except this time you could see what you could not hear of sound, or seeds.
Wind carries sounds
it cannot hear
the way it carries
that will not
the way it moves further than most
in a life that never
Consequently, I let the words flutter down to settle at the bottom of the page, reflecting how the wind dies down and how the world settles itself at the end. The final words, a home, are down there, alone, reflecting the state of isolation or loss or longing, or whatever the reader wants words to be.
As Chaucer knew, poems go out into the world. For a writer, poems are our words that speak well without us, and just as wind lands by ceasing to be what it was, a poem ends when you feel there is nowhere else to go.
Kevin Irie is a Japanese-Canadian poet from Toronto whose book, Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report (Frontenac House 2012) was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award and the Toronto Book Award. His new book is The Tantramar Re-Vision from McGill-Queen’s University Press, July 2021.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Irie.