In your poem, “Hell,” the speaker
“wait[s] in the landlocked sea which is not Hell as you would expect.”
What opportunities does the tremulous condition of “waiting” offer your
poem? And what differentiates this eternal-sounding (some might say,
hellish) circumstance from Hell itself?
Waiting, as Beckett and Bishop knew
particularly well, is both torture and imperative to creativity. Along
with waiting comes anxiety, frustration, fear, idealism – and perhaps
especially boredom. While no writer wants to either be bored or bore
his or her audience, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips writes that “the
paradox of the waiting that goes on in boredom is that the individual
does not know what he was waiting for until he finds it, and that often
he does not know that he is waiting.” Does not that sound like a
definition of reading a poem? So writing and reading poems may be a
kind of hell!
Diagramming your poem, “The Blue Square”
would be a fun challenge. We’d need several chalkboards to do it
properly, since your poem makes abundant use of conjunctions and
prepositions. Diagramming would leave us with a constellation of dotted
and slanted lines. Are these parts of speech the major rivets that bind
your images in this poem?
Confession: I have never learned to
diagram a sentence. But I like the idea of prepositions as “hinges” –
the parts of speech that make things move. Diagramming a sentence
looks, I see, like a great robotic beast with hinges for joints, so
that makes good sense in my brain. I will now go learn how to make
We at Transom
are always fascinated when a poem comes to us in the first-person
plural voice of “we” rather than the singular “I.” In “The Blue
Square,” it seems vital that the readers perceive the “we” as both
wounded and potentially dangerous as they “march” towards the
mysterious “enemies.” Is there a subtle social commentary embedded in
your choice of pronoun?
The “we” was just a way of getting
away from “I,” to be honest. I see how that avoidance has made this
into a rather political poem, which was unintended, but is a nice side
effect of a stylistic experiment.