Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Map (you give me) by Stephen Bett

You point out
places & it's
like doors

filled w/

So caught in
the frame

Dead ends
dark glass

You are so
open to me,
place a
new spaces
a map
of my need

Editor: Orchid Tierney

Stephen Bett's works are characteristically sharp and superficially simple. Yet they mask a sincere emotion which, in subsequent readings, grows deeper with intensity. Brevity yields nuances, words become packed with unsaid dialogue, lines are meant to be read 'in between.'

That being said, the layers within the poems are wonderfully subtle. It's true that I have little patience for works where the skeleton is even remotely obvious. If I go to a restaurant, I don't want to be served the ingredients of my meal.

Minimalist poetry makes its own rules to convey meaning but any successful poem should read beyond the printed word. My personal obsession with semiotics, cultural signs and their processes which adapt and form meaning, made me fall in, like, love at first sight with Stephen's work. I spent hours pouring over his book Track this trying to understand how he melded particular nuances to words that normally yielded none.

At the time, I assumed the faint linear structure of the collection imposed a vague, connect-the-dots memory where subsequent poems rode on the metaphors that preceeded them. Although several months on, I'm not so sure that line of reasoning is correct. The one thing I do understand of his work is this gut feeling: the hallmark of authentic poetry is the ability to inspire a determined thought process and - 'I wish I could I write like that!'

Stephen Bett is an insanely prolific Canadian poet of eleven poetry collections which include 'S PLIT' (Ekstasis Editions, 2009) and 'Trader Poets' (Frog Hollow Press, 2003). A new edition of his humourous spoof on the softcore porn industry, 'Extreme Positions' is due for release shortly. The Map (you give me) appears in the collection, 'Track This: A Book Of Relationship,' published by BlazeVOX [books], 2010, and is reproduced with permission.

Do check out the Tuesday Poem sidebar. Every Tuesday, our 30 poets post poems they've written or have selected by other writers, ranging from Sappho to Baxter to Hass.

This week's editor, Orchid Tierney, is an Auckland-based writer. She graduated from the Masters of Creative Writing Program at Auckland University in 2009, and edits Rem Magazine. Her website: www.orchidtierney.com.

Curator's Note: Next week, we celebrate the first birthday of the Tuesday Poem with a communal poem written by each of the poets line by line over the week ... drop in and watch the poem unfold.


Emma said...

Love this Orchid. Excellent!

Ben Hur said...

I must admit (though I can be rambly and overblown myself), I always enjoy minimalist poetry. In some of the same ways as such forms as haiku, minimalist poems force the poet to condense emotion and all sorts of other aspects. Brevity and simplicity are far more skilful than they often appear.

Alys Titchener said...

I particularly love the last stanza; 'place a | finger | new spaces | unfold | a map | of my need'. Reminds me of what I'm like in those first moments of new love :-) So beautifully depicted! Thanks for sharing Orchid. Nice pick!!

Cattyrox said...

I really loved this, Orchid - thank you for posting it. I love the way the Tuesday poems are both introducing me to new poets and challenging my own work.

Anonymous said...

Insanely prolific or just insane?