Poetic Tips II (I suppose slightly harder)

Poetry – like all artistic displays – has a myriad of rules as well as their designations when those rules are not followed, essentially: structural and counter-structural, fluid and stagnant, chaotic and orderly. It is necessary for me to stress that no form of composing elevates over another, and none yields better results among the general readers. The most important element of any form of art, for me, is it’s understandability, how accessible it attempts to be. Portuguese author José Luís Peixoto placed it best in an interview, I will attempt to translate as best I can:

“Eu acredito muito na escrita como alguma coisa que se dirige às pessoas, que não exclui ninguém e que procura, justamente, comunicar com todos, por isso, em relação aos seus veículos não coloco limites.”

I strongly believe in writing as something directed at people, it does not exclude anyone and seeks, precisely, the communication with all, therefor, I place no boundaries to it’s vehicles. 

Related to his writing being displayed on building walls of Lisbon, in an interview with Caras in 21 of March of 2011

Some years ago, I was confronted with the reality that my Portuguese poetry wasn’t always understandable (an example would be TEMPO, the only clear example of that published on this website), and it alienated a plethora of possibilities by being excessively confusing – not because of any attempt at brilliance, but because of obvious mental laziness at conveying my own creations clearly. I would just cast it off with any vocabulary I could muster, with any structure I could be bothered to envision.

Under beyond-the-grave mentorship of many authors, I was taught the importance of structure and how it deeply affects the reader, and how the common myth of overly-complex pieces being superior is just a trap aspiring authors tend to fall face-first into. There is nothing wrong about the humility of being understandable by all, as much as there is no class or poignancy in being understood by none.

SYLLABLES, SOUND, VISUAL ORDER

Metric lines in poetry have been used for centuries, but many people question: to what purpose? From iambic pentameters, latin hexameters, endecasillabo, an vast array of metrics were created with different purposes, but the one subjacent to most of them is the sonority of the composition. Many times, poetry wasn’t just a readers delight, it was also meant as a listeners glory. These poems could be considered similar to current songs, as they flew off the mouth straight to the chest, and they were meant as exhibitions of romantic beauty or full theatrical compositions.

Today, the device of counting syllables has fallen to disuse, and is often disregarded all together, but to anyone interested in the sonority or aloud readability of compositions, with or without rhymes, you should be wary of the syllables used while you compose. Not only do they fuel great sounds, but they also control tightly the visual order of your poem. For example, visual disconnects are not common, but they are odd constructions that should often be avoided, for the sake of the readability of a line:

(disregarding syllabic order) 

I could sense my mind flickering akin to the pinnacle of a candle’s flame,

The waver… a burning tempest of emotional apathy.

(regarding syllabic order) 

My mind flickers akin to a candle’s flame,

Wavering… whirling fires of inner apathy. 

(these lines are demonstrations and not part of any actual composition) 

The second version is a common use of the alexandrine meter, following twelve syllables in each line, one of my most common uses of a meter. Often, the syllables align the lines, but it’s not always the case (hence why my compositions often look so “orderly” in the length of each verse, it happens naturally most times).

Is it important, at all? I would not know. It is important to me, it allows me to express the feelings exposed in an understandable, appealing way, instead of the word mesh I used to create. It helped me greatly to worry about these things, and now, composing to me really feels like composing, I look at all these elements, I organise them, and a poem is born almost naturally, because as the paper suffers this structure, so do my thoughts and writing.

In a lighter tone, my Mother used to say that a messy room is representative of a messy life. I’ve always believe that this applied to many of common things, like poetry! This outer order I create allows my mind to clear further, like organising a desk.

Of course, if your jam is poetry that comes straight from the mind to the paper, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. This is mostly directed at people who hold much to be expressed and cannot do it when they attempt to write poetry.

I hope I helped someone, in any way, that would make me the happiest.

Santos is almost here, I’m a big celebrator of Portuguese folk parties, so poetry will be scarce. Let’s enjoy the first step into Summer with poetic incantations!


Johnny.

Poetic Tips (I suppose)

A more fitting title would be: “a few points I’ve gathered from writing poetry”, yet, I’ve written in Portuguese since I was about 11 years old, and in English for about three months. If I already had a long way to go in my native language, that is multiplied by some dozens when it comes to English.

I believe poetry is a frugal thing, much in the ways of music: a powerhouse of conveying feelings directly that often falls flat on it’s face. I don’t have fingers to count my failed compositions, but I do have an excellent memory about how they failed:

MEANING VS. SUBJECT

One common trap of composing is to collide the meaning intended for the composition and it’s mechanical subject. The two mustn’t exist hand-in-hand, in fact, it’s preferable that they exist separately.

The meaning of a composition is to be left undecided, it’s not mine to hold, and the more I force it’s presence, the more it seems to dodge under descriptive words and imagined perceptions. In fact, a composition doesn’t need to mean anything, it’s a natural part of the process to allow itself the literary space to mean… whatever it wants to mean, really. A keen reader might break the veil and see clearly into the poets feelings at the time of writing, but even that can be arguably fallacious when it comes to understanding the poem at hand. Everything can be indicative of meaning, even the structure of a poem, but it shouldn’t take priority over the subject.

When I use the expression “mechanical subject”, I usually image a combustion engine working within the poem. It is the core propeller, the fuel for that composition to even exist. This could be the poetic subject or it could not. There are countless poems versing love and singing heart-break, those feelings are the mechanical subject of the compositions, even if the poetic subject might be the authors themselves, a fictional character, or the person to which the composition is directed. If you are familiar with any of my poems, you might have realised I use artistic displays as mechanical subjects, like guitars or grand dances:

These ghosted moves illuminated by yellow lamp posts,

These rhythms and notes guided by a Spanish guitar

Are but beautiful memories we hold, mi flor del mar.

(…)

Yet, the children still smile in those avenues in France,

The Spanish guitar backgrounds all my hopeful walks

Searching for you, waiting eagerly for our ghostly dance

Spanning my thoughts and the lights of these city blocks.

From “Avenues in France” by me, but unreleased. 

Some authors are able to smoothly shift their mechanical subject mid-composition, unfortunately I’m not that gifted. Not yet, at least. If I can convey one tip regarding this specific factor, I would advise you to be aware of it and attempt to make it clear in your mind before writing.

LANGUAGE AND [PRESS ENTER]

I’m often guilty of using ridiculous words in poetry, like halcyon or hecatomb. Now, of course, there is absolutely no issue with using any word you wish to, the more the merrier, but there can be a severe disconnect between the general language of a composition and a sudden eldritch word. Consistency isn’t always necessary, but connection is a key element of flux when it comes to poetry. It must flow, almost effortlessly, through you and through the reader. Sometimes, that flowing can be broken by an out-of-place heavy word, which is generally a common poetic technique nowadays (to which I’m a very big prey of).

The wording is, however, not the only problem with the flux of a lot of compositions, there is also the somehow puzzling [PRESS ENTER] effect many authors have criticised over-time.

Verses usually tend to

path

The way to a stanzaic

demonstration, much

like an instrument

Some poets do this naturally, others do it for some other confusing reason I can’t quite grasp. The problem here is not so much the fluidity of the poem, although it is often damaged by this process, but also the rational process behind reading a poem. It’s much like a math equation, each verse must contain something that leads up to a full stanza, once all have been read in the necessary order, the whole stanza will then contain the ultimate take-away. Not only is it important that the verses themselves are fluid, but that the stanza division follows the division of thoughts.

Poetry, after all, is that very action. Verses and stanzas are used to guide the thought behind the composition – the climaxes, the low-points, the expositions and breaks, all must be organised in a way to facilitate the message of the poem.

The general lyricism of the poems is also transformed greatly by the proper usage of verses. I can’t count the times where I’ve seen verse breaks where there was no necessity for a break to exist, or two verses that are supposed to be read continuously with no clear indication of division, making them essentially one verse needlessly separated by a line break.

Countering this mechanism is pretty easy, just experiment with classical structures. Tercets, quatrains, even sestets if you are feeling gutsy. They needn’t rhyme, although the usage of crossed rhyme and distichs is a great way to force you to shape up a thought, and to keep the poem within marginal lines. I will leave syllabic counting and coda structures to another sunny day.

 

Sorry for the bulky text, I tried shortening it as much as I could.


JOHNNY

 

 

Poetics of Structure

Some people may know, and some people may not, but I’m full blown Portuguese. Pure bred, no ancestry anywhere else, my hair and eyes are raven-black and my skin is multi-colour.

That being said, it is natural that my poetry is heavily influenced by the Pantheon of Portuguese Poets, a very important group of figures in general portuguese culture, and with that, comes a certain stiffness very much our own. Portuguese people are known for their subtle and muffled speech, without melody or variations, and our culture deep-rooted in sadness and an overall sense of abandonment.

From that, many common feelings have bloomed in poets like Fernando Pessoa, Cesário Verde, Eugénio de Andrade, Florbela Espanca, Natália Correia, Sá-Carneiro, and many others, installing within their compositions a general sense of chaotic order. Although contradictory, it works well in our favour. Our poetics are strict, direct, respectful of the general laws of lyricism and composition and deep-rooted in the headwaters of emotion.

I would sooner stake my heart than compare myself to the Great Pantheon, but of course, like most aspiring portuguese poets, I have troubles discerning my style from these greats that came before, especially when they are regarded as the paragon of lyric and structured poetry. My education, however, was very english-based and anglocentric, exposing me to the vast beyond of chaotic chaos often present in many current and old English forms of poetry.

WordPress is a vast source for many of those poems – which I’m all for – and the contact I’ve had here with them gave me a lot of grasp about my vision of poetry, both future and past. As an attempt to clarify what I mean with chaotic order and chaotic chaos, I will use two examples:

The wind, into my wounds it bled,

In a striking weep of distilled pain

Through cobalt tears destiny has shed,

In a luck of the draw without gain.

This stanza from my own “Phagora” is a good example of the above mentioned chaotic order. It respects the common rules of crossed rhyming, lyrical consistency and syllabic composure, however, it is incredibly chaotic on what it attempts to display. This stanza was a far out allegory to say “pain of longing is a game of chance unending”, which would be equally lyrical if placed in the right setting.

But what of the river nymphs

with flowing hair of company,

good company

that springing love

doesn’t die with age

rather splashing into your eyes of prism

candour, my adored, I’m fiery demon

turning to steam the river within you

This improvised poem (not meant to be taken seriously), was composed without poetic structure in mind, but has a flowing divinity within it’s content. It’s followable, understandable, and retains some lyricism among it’s chaotic chaos. Unfortunately for me, I’m not gifted at writing well using free verse or zero-stanza formats, again, mostly because of my cultural origins and natural language.

I would like to, however, throw a challenge to anyone out there that would like to absorb poetics with me, to write in full structure like my first example. May you do so, I will attempt to use your poem as base for a more english “free verse” poem, and you would have my thanks.

Much love,

Johnny.

Poesia Portuguesa

Por motivos de sigilo em natureza extraordinária, não poderei publicar mais trabalhos em Português durante algum tempo, sendo que dedicarei a maior parte do blogue à minha poesia em Inglês.

Os poemas que já escrevi e publiquei irão manter-se, e planeio futuramente voltar a publicar mais.

Um bem haja, meus amores,

João Maria Azevedo

Sintonada (re-escrito)

Publiquei este poema, faz hoje um mês, e entretanto tive de o re-editar várias vezes. Gosto da sua ideia, mas não a consigo fazer funcionar totalmente, falta-me prática.


SINTONADA

SINTONADA

Deitado no nosso doce leito,
Já não sinto nada.
Deito-me no teu peito,
Ouço o teu coração em batida,
Que numa ternurosa bravada
Vai tirando o pouco que ainda sinto.

E quando me dou ao verso,
Já não sinto nada.
Já não tenho lágrimas a chorar
Nem poemas onde debitar
A dor que já nem sinto.

Dá-se então a entrada
De um novo dia, radiante,
Vejo a sua luz com encanto,
E o teu sorriso contagiante.
Mas já não sinto nada.

Vivo num palco de sonetos,
Sou actor de todos os momentos:
Do amor, de amar, de te ter.
E quando cai o pano de seda:
Já não sinto nada.
Nem o medo da morte,
Nem a força da palavra…

Atiro-me então, sem pudor
Ao gume afiado da tua espada,
Que empunhaste por mim no amor,
Do qual eu já não sinto nada.


João Maria Azevedo

T E M P O

Um poema um tanto estranho, não tens pés nem cabeça. Foi escrito à mão num tempo muito reduzido, e não o entendo directamente. Se virem algo nele, digam-me, per favore.


TEMPO

À invocada crueldade do Tempo,
Faço oração de puro desespero:
Que não me façam ode nenhuma.
Que não alimentem esta loucura.

Que não será na mortalha
A escusa de encontrar a falha
Entregue aos orgãos mais letais.

Serão gigantes ecrãs de pedra,
Empoleirados nas sete cabeças da Hidra,
Onde se carvarão os meus textos finais.

Será no halo dessas palavras,
Cravados do mais solene silêncio,
Que me darei à obra inacabada.

Verterá, nas suas grandes mágoas,
O liquido verde que ensopa as estrelas,
E beija os fardos das maiores montanhas.

São nessas palavras que racho a passagem,
E é nelas que me desfaço em miragem,
Na maralha de carinhos que me banha.

Será nessa adorada beleza,
Na candura do texto e sua natureza,
Que o Tempo passará rapidamente.

Inimigo da Arte que o lentifica,
Vítima mortal da sensibilidade mais rica,
Ao Tempo, não ofereço gentileza.


João Maria Azevedo

Poesia de Recado #4


Recado

Hoje tenho vinte e dois anos

E neles se depositam vontades,

Sonhos vazios e tantas esperanças,

“Vinte e dois? É a melhor das idades.”

Pois é, mas não nestas andanças.

 

Já se quebram os tempos uniformes

Das saídas, das amassos, dos homens,

Agora são só sombras disformes:

Memórias pobres que se oprimem.

 

Não tenho pena nenhuma de mirar

A mudança rápida da fluidez humana.

Tenho mais pena se por aqui ficar,

O insano dos tempos distintos,

Aquele que acredita na felicidade,

Haha, que coisa mais arcana…!

Sintoma próprio de pouca idade.

 

Em mim cabem os sonhos de todos,

E em mim todos eles morrerão,

Dou o corpo às flechas de fogo,

Em cordas de gritos e choros,

E pontas de dolorosa paixão.


JOHNNY SALVATORE

ALTA POETTICA

Dedicando este pequeno e simples poema a P. R. Cunha, das palavras, que não as levem o vento.


ALTA POETTICA

Imploro por momentos – o balanço.

Numa oração encharcada d’água

Com muita força, a ver se alcanço

A mansão interior da alta calma.

 

Medito sobre os lábios encarnados

E a plácida leitura introspectiva,

Os meus sobre os teus colocados

Numa paixão só imaginativa.

 

É dura: a versão mental,

O fascício do contratempo,

Da dor d’alma mais brutal.

 

Que me corta de momento,

E me dá, já morto por dentro,

Às entranhas misteriosas do mal.

 

O Atlântico já não é um mar

Mas sim uma massa poética

Que se entrega à cruel temática

De viajar, de viver, de amar.

 

Nesta meditação tão prometida

Vejo só uma travessia esbatida,

D’olhos grandes e azuis como o dia.

 

Talvez haja alguma vazia poética

No Atlântico de palavras e versos

Que nos dê a prometida travessia.


JOHNNY SALVATORE

Sonetos #5 (poesia reciclada)


OUTRORA

Todos os dias escrevo, d’alma repleta,

E lembro-me momentaneamente,

De que outrora já fui poeta

Que outrora já fui contente.

 

Percebo agora que sou das florestas,

Dos rios, das montanhas, sem textos.

Que não choro lágrimas, mas cascatas,

E para chorar não preciso de contexto.

 

Agora que tenho a alma penhorada,

Passo os dias no jardim, a destilar

O facto de não ser mesmo nada.

 

É importante não esquecer:

Homem sem nada a perder

Tem a escrita mais refinada.

 


GILBERTO

És uma efusão na minha tinta,

A ponta metálica da caneta,

És o meu espírito poeta,

Em toda a luz já extinta.

 

Vejo-te em bancos de jardim,

Escrevendo a maior obra,

Uma Ode que se desdobra

Nas asas brancas dum Serafim.

 

Tenho saudades tuas, tantas,

E nunca sequer te conheci,

Agora és só terra e plantas.

 

Guardo as tuas cartas bonitas,

Numa caixa de madeira e cetim

Digna das tuas poesias eruditas.

 


ALVARAZ

Tudo em mim é feito de pó,

E tudo em mim pó se reduz,

Que não me falte muita luz,

Para escrever como estou só.

 

Tenho falta de gostar d’alguém,

De não ser filho do destino,

Estou farto de ter um caminho

Que não se cruza com ninguém.

 

Aqui, já estou tão solitário,

Por vezes já nem me sinto,

Dou-me por homem extinto.

 

Agora, aguardo pela morte,

Que o pó do meu interior

Também a mim me sufoque.


JOHNNY SALVATORE

Não voltes.


Que não sejamos casados,

Mas artistas do romance vazio

Um amor tão platónico como vádio,

Outrora chorado nas casas de fados.

 

Só quero uma varandinha ao Sol

De onde possa ver a nossa Cidade,

Tu desnudo debaixo do meu lençol,

O Porteiro da nossa cumplicidade.

 

Só da sensação eu já perco o jeito

Perante a grandiosa Arte do amor

Num terramoto dos pés ao peito.

 

Que se lixe o Speare e a sua paixão,

Não são nos sonetos da sua canção

Que dão música à nossa suavidade.

 

Que se lixe Dostoy e o seu Idiota,

Só preciso de ti, meu miúdo janota,

És-me suficiente até na saudade.


JOHNNY SALVATORE