This week I have been playing with metaphors. Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.
Some metaphors have been so used that they have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity. I have to strive for originality. But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.
I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.
My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside camps (prisons?) and separated from their children.
Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be trusted to make their way through.
There are famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall (which one day came tumbling down) and literary walls, like Humpty Dumpty’s wall which he fell from.
As for doors, literature is full of portals, doorways, that take us elsewhere. Often the doors are hidden and disguised, just think the magic wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. But there is also the entry to the magical places of Harry Potter at the station, Hogwartz can’t be reached without knowing how to go through the portal.
Now how does one make ones way through a door, I think of the Trojan Horse.
My mind begins to think do people still fear the Trojan Horse, and has this somehow rid people of compassion. They think that everything must not be what it seems, but is always in disguise; a disguise that has bite, a disguise that will destroy.
So now with some of this thinking done, I have some things I can allude to, some ideas about gates and doors, some emotions I want to draw on, and a current happening in the world that frustrates me and I hope we can change.
Now for a poetry first draft to bring this all together.
the Trojan horse
Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying
It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
from the wall
Oh for a portal
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up
When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?
I’ll keep working on this poem and see what eventuates.
It is a beginning and I am working with this one to let the subject dictate the shape and direction of the poem.
Questions I ask myself after a first draft like this:
- Am I being a little didactic (lecturing) here? Is that okay?
- In what ways can I improve the poem’s lineation?
- Can I think also about protest songs and bring their intertextuality in ?
- Will this poem be part of a series of poems?
- What other research, including visual research, can I do to reflect on gates, doors, walls etc?
- Which of the metaphors here can be extended?
- Words for gate in other languages?
(c) June Perkins, words and top image.