Sunday, June 17, 2007

Poetry Is What is Left Unsaid

from an interview with Michael Ondaatje:

"One of the things about poetry is that you are more suggestive, I think," he said. "You don't say 100 percent. You say 70 percent, or something like that, so that the reader also participates in the story. Now, in the poem, the minute you say too much, it dies. So reader and writer are in a simultaneous location making the final poem.

"I want to bring that into fiction. When I turned from poetry to fiction I thought, 'Well, I wonder if you can do that, too.'

"So you are being more suggestive, you are being very tight with words, very precise with words as opposed to poetic, which sometimes people think is too romantic. . . . And I think the forms of poetry, as the forms of modern art, are more radical perhaps than some of the forms of the novel.

8 comments:

Pamela said...

Essence of a story/narrative (poetry), rather than the essentials of a story (fiction/prose?

Peter said...

Pamela: Essence vs Essentials.
I like that.

Collin said...

I love Michael Ondaatje. He's one of the most brilliant writers, although I thought Anil's Ghost was overrated hoo-hah! His poetry is beautiful. I go back again and again to The Cinnamon Peeler.

ReggieH said...

I've noticed from reviews that some reviewers are finally catching on that Ondaatje's novels are elliptical poems in disguise (I guess the new book is more elusive than usual).

A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz said...

This is excellent. Thanks for posting it, Doc!

Peter said...

Collin: I don't know his poetry very well. I'll have to check it out. I love how he moved from poet to novelist. The English Patient was terrific.

Brian Campbell said...

"Get yourself out of the way of the poem" is the way a friend of mine put it. Thanks for this quote, Peter.

Brian Campbell said...

A very good read (poetry/prose poetry) is O's "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid".