Wake: Up to Poetry
” …you swim
from core state to fugue state
in undirected milky water
to a black-filled circle,
which is your fully fledged city
dwindled into a village”
— from “Broken Pot Used as Writing Material”
Here at WFU Press we’re busy with the final stages of Medbh McGuckian’s The High Caul Cap, due out next month. We keep reading the poems, then looking up to ask one another “So, what do you…?”
McGuckian’s poetry reminds me of experimental films, a series of rapid, fleeting images one after the other. Readers can feel a connection, but it takes serious work to articulate and explain the meanings. McGuckian herself addresses the abstract language in an interview with J.P. O’Malley
‘Poems are very much part of the unconscious mind.… They push up through the ordinary language that we use in every day life. The language which we are using now, for example, to try and understand what is written in the poems, it is inadequate, laborious and slow.
‘Whereas in poetry, language moves the way it does in dreams, where everything is superimposed very rapidly on everything else. In dreams, the language can be soothing and reassuring, because people are nourished by their dreams.’
McGuckian forces the reader to slow down. It’s all too easy to fall into skimming, or to turn pages absent-mindedly without thinking about what’s being said. That will not work with McGuckian—readers have to pay attention, and it’s not unusual to reread a poem several times before you can recognize the themes. The best advice I can give for delving into her poetry is to develop a strange balance of concentration and intuition.
(Posted by Megan)