I saw a call for writers recently asking for “Twitter-sized” poems. I suppose crunching a thought into a 140 character poem is not so bad—after all, a haiku would have great difficulty reaching that length and most of my Word of the Day epigrams fit within this restriction—but it’s the premise that bothers me. Poetry requires form: something to separate it from prose. I’m not denouncing all free-verse and slam poems—I have seen both well-done…on occasion—but I see them as different art “forms” from the intellectual process of crafting chaos with the ordered form of poetry. One man keeping the formal fight alive with humourous couplets is British poet Tony Harrison.
Harrison was recommended to me by a Classical Literature professor at UBC not for any of Harrison’s translations of Greek plays (most notably Hecuba and the Oresteia), but for a poem about the Gulf War. The poem, “A Cold Coming”, is an imagined interview between Harrison and the charred remains of an Iraqi truck driver killed in a missile attack Continue reading