My recent style, what I have termed the “Shotgun” style, is an evolution from previous, more minimal, poetry. The term “Shotgun” here refers to both the combined impact of each individual word, like each bearing in a slug, the visually explosive nature of the presentation and the scattershot layout of the page. It is also inspired very heavily by Aram Saroyan, a poet who made me think of language in an entirely new way. Saroyan’s poems are often unreadable due to intentional usage of puns or wordplay (as in “lighght” where its unpronounceability is its point) or in the use of visual distortions, such as a page where the word “crickets” spells out a line. However, the most profoundly inspiring work of Saroyan’s to me is this:
This has been compared to the alphabet evolving, literally morphing into itself, but to me it represents something more important; the visual distance between the symbols we use for language and the language in and of itself. Here I also note an inspiration from the Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt, or Distancing Effect.
Because of this, my work has received mixed feedback, which I am constantly taking on board to evolve my work (or to improve my aim, as it were). In workshops, it is impossible to conventionally read my poetry, which has become even more pronounced as my poems delve even further into visual abstraction. I have, at heart, always been someone who thought in images, and was commended in my earlier, more traditional, submissions on the strength of my imagery. To me, this focus on the poem as a literal image is an extension of this idea that poems, and literature, are looked at, not spoken aloud, save in a small number of cases. This idea of alienation also forms the themes of the works themselves, as in the untitled work in a “Machinegun” style. The distance between the revolutionary spirit and the undermining of anxiety forms the action amidst the background of violence (the ever-growing “BANG” that fills the page). These works also resist being read linearly by their very nature, and thus carry a dreamlike, surreal quality. My work has been compared favourably to Sarah Kane, whom I count amidst my inspirations, for this quality.
As a multimedia artist, the intersections between the arts is also of great personal interest to me. I think that often poetry is given a bad reputation because of the stiff nature of what is and is not poetic, and is also undermined by concepts of seriousness and academia. Poetry is, in my opinion, best freed from these assumptions, where play, visual space and liberation from the boundaries of prose are put at the forefront. Ideally, my poetry should aim to free itself of representation, of reference to some translation of the words via sound, so that the printed words on the page form a visual phenomenon – like an ASCII rendition of a Kandinsky or Annie Besant painting. Its freedom and liberation should dictate its visual form. This is where I feel I fail, in not going far enough into this abstraction and tying myself too deeply to a notion of poetics.