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.

Within cultivated touches.


From the relatively short amount of people that have taken the time to explore my body of poetics, to whom I’m eternally thankful, one common theme among them seems recurrent. This small text is only meant to clarify certain subjacent elements of my writing, rather than explaining the poetics in full (something I could not do even if I wanted to).

The first element is the name of the blog, Caliath, often confused with a pseudonym I use for writing, although not at all meant to be seen that way.

Ever since my somewhat muddy beginnings writing, both in English and Portuguese, I would name all my notebooks Caliath (they all still exist, to this day, 16 of them), which means all of the poetry here is found in written form on Caliath XVI. There isn’t a clear reason to why I decided upon that name for them, I don’t even remember reflecting on what I should call them before actually naming them, and ever since, Caliath has been the name I generally give to all my poetry – good, bad or outright nonsensical, they all find common ground in a single aspect, which brings me to my second clarification:

There are four volumes of Caliath that I’ve disowned, the first four, to be precise. Now all compiled into one “poetry to burn under the sea”, they are all poems that I atribute to myself and my personal life and emotions, in contrast to all following Caliath volumes (5 and up), where I’m given to verse above a manufactured world. This has been highly valuable, since it allows me to experiment freely, feel the work to an augmented degree, and fully manipulate the subjects of my poetry without compromising it’s honesty. This manufactured world, or how I like to call it – wasteland, works in a similar way to a fictional universe, but with a bitter existencial-philosophical cultivated touch.

Although I claim to take inspiration from Ultra-Romance for my english poetry, a lot of it is soaked in a type of poetic existentialism very much my own, whereas the beauty of a certain question is elevated beyond it’s initial version, and then destroyed and broken apart by a rather senseless feeling of inadequacy. This general inadequacy is present throughout all my creations, from being inadequate or unequipped to love, to write, to understand or even to allow full emotion to course my words, and that same feeling waters my most candid and vulnerable poetics, for as long as I feel inadequate and reject my own creations, they take such a unique form in that rejection.

Regardless, that was a mess, hopefully it was a bit clear,

Much love,

Johnny.