Hello to all of you dVersians! It’s Lisa here with Poetics. It took me a few tries to come up with something decent. I finally decided on a two-pronged discussion on edges and fringes with prompts coming out of it. Carol’s poem, “Knife-edge,” stuck with me. I started thinking what would it look like to be edgy with poetry. Doing a google search on it, I came up with many sites devoted to Sylvia Plath’s poem, Edge, which I haven’t yet read but it led me to a short essay by Claire Millikin about Plath’s techniques in it and her other poems that makes them work so well.
Claire Millikin believes:
Any poem cannot be read all the way through, that is completely understood, until the circumstance of its writing, including the life of the poet from which it emerged, are set, done… The edge is where the poem shows everything that is left out of the poem.
As a reader, how do we proceed then? Will we have to fill in the blanks and hope we guess right? If we are the poet, how can we make ourselves understood as best we can while being un-”done”?
Describing Plath’s work as an example, Millikin says:
her work is open to the limit, open to the space outside the poem that has to show the words as cuts, edges in some other surface almost impossible to see in its completeness.
Does this mean we come closest to full understanding by looking at something “other” (than the poem) to orient ourselves? Must we create something other as the poet to be understood? Or can we do it within the poem itself?
Finally Millikin asks:
What is the word, the line, that cuts, that can show that edge?
I found two good poems that talk about the edge. The first context is guessable by the end of it:
Come to the Edge,by Christopher Logue
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.
The second one is more nebulous and the cuts seem deeper:
In human closeness there is a secret edge
In human closeness there is a secret edge,
Nor love nor passion can pass it above,
Let lips with lips be joined in silent rage,
And hearts be burst asunder with the love.
And friendship, too, is powerless plot,
And so years of bliss with noble tends,
When your heart is free and known not,
The slow languor of the earthy sense.
And they who strive to reach this edge are mad,
But they who reached are shocked with anguish hard –
Now you know why beneath your hand
You do not feel the beating of my heart.
– by Anna Akhmatova
What do we know about Akhmatova that lends itself to a fuller understanding of her words?
On to the other prong of this fork: fringes. Fringes can be nouns or verbs. As a noun, it’s defined as: 1) a decorative border of thread, cord, or the like, usually hanging loosely from a raveled edge or separate strip; 2) anything resembling or suggesting this, (e.g. a fringe of grass around a swimming pool); 3) an outer edge; margin; periphery (e.g. on the fringe of the art world); 4) something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary, or extreme in relation to something else (e.g. the lunatic fringe of a strong political party.) As a verb, it’s defined as: 1) to furnish with or as if with a fringe; 2) to serve as a fringe for or to be arranged around or along so as to suggest a fringe (e.g. armed guards fringing the building.)
Where an edge seems close and sharp, a fringe feels distant and less-defined. A boundary drawn with a thick marker is an edge. One poured in sand is more fringe-y. It doesn’t mean that the border is any less outlined but there is a feeling that fringe is easier to ignore or isn’t as important as an edge. Another perspective is that fringes might be approachable where hard lines not so much.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spark on one of these paths:
1. Write a poem using the word edge;
2. Write a poem that keeps Millikin’s question above in mind.
3. Write a poem using the word fringe;
4. Write a poem from the fringe, however you define it.
Whatever you choose, please indicate your choice # somewhere on your post.
As a bonus challenge, please tell why you chose the one you did.
If you are new, here’s how to join in:
*Write a poem (in any form) in response to the challenge.
*You will find links to other poets and more will join, so check back later to read their poems.
*Read and comment on other poets’ work–we all come here to have our poems read.
*Please link back to dVerse from your site/blog.