Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anchor with Cow or Rabbit

                                                     by John William Dey, "Uncle Jack"

"'When I've finished a painting, I put a bright light on it and I go over the whole thing with a magnifying glass to see if anything's wrong. Sometimes a picture just doesn't look like it's level, and then I have to put something on to anchor it--something like a cow or a rabbit.' He points to a painting on the wall. 'It looked kind of lopsided. It's the inside of a living room, so I put a clock over the mantel to anchor it.'"                      
                                              from American Folk Artists, Elinor Lander Horwitz

A poem can be itself, just as it comes out of the brain and scrawls itself on the paper. But some poems die for lack of an anchor; an add-in to the process that's necessary to balance or anchor the poem. It's not a theme, not a trope, not the subject, not's a cow or a rabbit, something that surprises the writer or adds, subtracts, counters or reinterprets what comes before or after it. It can appear anywhere in the poem. It doesn't finish the poem, but more subtly, seals the poem as itself. 


    1. A wonderful observation about technique in poetry--and in all the arts, I think: that balancing of intuition and craft, the eye in the belly and the one in the head. (Hi, Carol, it's me,Eliot.)