Thursday, December 10, 2009

maybe book after a no way book

I'm trying to edit together a book of my poems "for young readers", which I'm hoping to complete, but—

it's proceeding from a collection of "whimsical" poems which I was unable to collate or cohere—

something of my confusion regarding the latter can be seen in the "afterword" I wrote for it:

Backass Note

My whimsical poems are for the most part conceptual rather than linguistic. . . I'm too inhibited and puritanical to indulge in sound for sound's sake. I admire those who can write nonsense verse, but that whole wibblety wobblety world of wordplay is beyond me. . . (Roger McGough for one can do both the sound and the sense equally brilliantly; I envy his genius.) Puns, if they occur, are usuallly derived from metaphor rather than sound-association; indeed, I am usually surprised when people point out a "pun" in one of my poems, because I rarely intend them; they're mostly inadvertant. I make a conscious effort to work from the synonym: my thesaurus is always at hand. For me the content comes first; plot is always uppermost in my thoughts: though after that's set, formal concerns of style or sound-patterns may evolve in a further elaboration.

What do I mean by whimsical? Is it a category separate from others, a genre? Its subject matter is often trivial: kites, balloons, umbrellas, barbershops or hair in general, honeymoons and drinking fountains. And maybe the whimsical poem never tries to be funny (!), it's too complacent for that. Halfway between a-mused and be-mused. Smug-like, it doesn't care. It doesn't show off with insouciance and lyrical dandyisms (for the most part). Indeed, it often has an air of earnestness, though towards what end is not always evident. It thrives on its arbitrariness, but it does seem to have a purpose in mind. It doesn't want to be ironic or satiric, I think. But even if I have somewhat successfully defined the whimsical poem here, have I managed to (ever) actually write one?