|Bay near Kassiopi, north Corfu|
The last two sections in Shaping the Water Path both have watery associations. In the Prose Poems the water themes embrace a river in the Scottish Highlands, the eponymous beck in the Cumbrian garden of the title, the view from a narrow boat on the Kennett & Avon canal,
and the sea off the Kent coast.
As to why they are prose poems – well sometimes that's just how they come out. They have rhythms cadences and sometimes even rhymes, but not perhaps that sense of pause that demands line breaks, grouping certain words together and separating others.
For me the difference between prose writing & poetry (which includes prose poems) is that the latter seems to come from a different place. (Not everyone agrees with me on this. I remember talking about this different place of origin when I was giving a reading with another poet, who made it clear that for her, this was not the case at all). But that's how I experience it. It was years later when I read Sherod Santos book A Poetry of Two Minds - and he seemed to agree with me. I wonder what other writers of both prose and poetry think?
Some call these different 'levels' of the mind the concrete mind and the metaphorical mind. The concrete mind is adept at the everyday tasks, it's the one that gets us from one place to another and that means we can navigate the stations and the ticket vendors, the shops, the bills etc. and it deals in cause and effect. The metaphorical mind on the other hand is at home in associations, whether in poetry or prose, it is more fluid, often working with images and it doesn't need cause and effect or a narrative, though it certainly can work with them too. But it often focuses on descriptions, perceptions, states of being and consciousness.
The last section Liminal describes those in-between places, shorelines, harbours, ports, thresholds between one element and another.
Places or states of being that are not clearly one thing or another, shifting and mercurial, blurring boundaries between elements, terrain, moods and mindsets.
|Reflections - Ionian Sea|
|And the Albanian Mountains|
Edward Lear's House in Corfu
I walk down a flight of steps,
through a narrow passageway,
come out on the waterfront
where the houses look towards the sea.
In the house with yellow walls
Edward Lear lived, painted,
traded insults with his manservant, the Souliote,
made wicked sketches of his neighbours -
learned Greek, wrote rhymes and nonsense,
made up words, wrote funny stories
so his friends would smile,
hid his afflictions, wept in solitude,
wrote about owls and pussycats
and pea green boats -
looking out over a sea of palest green -
Perhaps he too woke in the night
to hear the squalling cats, the barking dogs,
the seagulls and the nesting herons -
The house beside the waterfront
has lemon yellow, slightly peeling walls,
closed shutters and an empty look -
in the evening the shadow of the little lamp
is thrown against the wall.
|Edward Lear's house, Corfu town|