Obscurity in Poetry — A Spectrum
I couldn’t be more if I wasn’t unsure.
by Geoff Page
(Developed from a short talk given in Bondi on November 7, 2014 at the salon of Luke Fischer and Dalia Nassar)
Firstly, we need to remember a successful poem is both an act of communication and a work of art. There is a tension between the point I first heard from John Tranter (“If I wanted to tell you something I’d have sent you a telegram”) and the fact that almost all poems (even the most obscure) are an attempt, in one way or another, to address a putative reader or listener.
There exists in current Australian poetry, and in world poetry across time and geography, a spectrum of obscurity which may be divided loosely into eight categories:
- Desirable or Essential Obscurity. This kind of obscurity is essential to the poetic process. Given poetry’s necessary compression, not everything can or should be spelt out. A poem…
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