Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Onion's Dark Core

I recently read The Onion's Dark Core: A Little Book of Poetry Talk. This is a book of essays and interviews by one of my favorites: Georgia poet David Bottoms. Reading the essays and interviews was much akin to getting a behind-the-scenes tour.

For many years, I have regarded Bottoms as a contemporary master of metaphor and imagery.  His poems are what I consider the epitome of strong poetry.  Bottoms says, "poetry is the art of metaphor, which is the art of making connections, the art of discovering bridges" (p. 61). You only have to read his poem "Sign For My Father Who Stressed the Bunt" to get an idea of how well he handles the metaphor. You can view a video of him reading the poem here.  

Another highlight of The Onion's Dark Core was Bottoms' discussion of the creative process mentioned in Seamus Heaney's essay "Feeling into Words."  It talks of the first stage of inspiration, and the second stage of the craft of writing.  While writers know the work that goes into the craft of revision, Bottoms seems to focus more on the first stage.  He notes, "the first the real creative act, [and] is slightly more mysterious. There really doesn't seem to be very much you can teach anyone about that.  Either it happens or it doesn't" (p. 110).  He goes on elsewhere to express that this mysterious first stage is not anything for which the poet can claim credit. It is a gift.

So, also, is the poetry of David Bottoms a gift.       

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