Anti-Gravity poetry

Anti-Gravity Poetry

A critical analysis of Anti-Gravity poetry, which, yes, I made up.

Form:

I don’t write poetry all that often but over the years I’ve had a few creative spells during which I’ve produced a handful of pieces. In the past I’ve tended to get stuck on lyrical wordplay for kids and recently, it’s been more introspective, subtle explorations of philosophical ideas.

But anyway, before I get boring you should know that something I keep coming back to is the idea of poetry that can be read in more than one direction. Or multiple directions. Or any direction. The first poem to feature this little quirk of form was a little something called ‘Fast Work’ and since then I’ve penned a few poems that follow similar rules of structure. Have a look at ‘Fast Work’ below:

Fast Work
Yes     Sit
No        Stand
Fast     Work
Slow    Play
In         Jump
Out       Land
Come   Leave
Go        Stay.

It looks kind of like a poem, and reads left to right, but the disjointed nature of the (carefully selected) words means that you can attack it as two lists. The form is flexible, inviting the reader to read each word in various sequences. I made a point of making this rhyme left to right, or down in two lists, but it works in other ways too. (Try Yes, Sit, Stand, No, Fast Work, Play, Slow…) The point is, you can dive into Anti-Gravity poetry and draw meaning, from seeming chaos.

Language:

The chaotic, unstructured nature of Anti-Gravity poetry means that language is given extra weight. Yes, I know that all poetry is designed to wring as much out of language as possible, but when the potential combinations of words is so vast in an Anti-Gravity poem, the effect is like that of adjacent mirrors. It’s like language working at maximum potential – the poet (me) doesn’t even have to do the difficult job of making meaning happen. The words and the reader do that, whether they like it or not.

Imagery:

I recently decided to write a poem about a bug I saw climbing the window. The concept was simple: focussing on the bug during its ascent then looking out towards whatever was in the distance at different stages of the climb. The poem evolved into an Anti-Gravity poem, which you can read top to bottom or bottom to top:

On the way up
Flying by.
And I see an airplane
On the way up
I look past the bug
And I see the sky.
On the way up
I look past the bug
Walking around,
And I see a couple,
On the way up
I look past the bug
And I see the ground.
On the way up
I look past the bug.

The imagery is to some extent fixed, be it a bug, a plane, the ground, whatever, but there is some flexibility in the relationship between these images, simply by dint of the different sequence in which they can be read. An example is the different meanings of ‘On the way up/ and I see a couple/ walking around’, as opposed to ‘walking around/ and I see a couple/ on the way up’. A simple reordering with dramatic differences in the image of this ‘couple’.

Rhythm:

Anti-Gravity poetry is in many ways as visual as it is aural, and the rhythm is flexible. The poems I have written all feature an element of rhyme, inviting the reader to adhere to (or create?) a clear rhythmic pattern, but this is largely incidental. That said, the playful use of language does suggest that a clear rhythm is welcome. Case in point, the following poem I wrote is pretty much just six words interconnected by the definite article. The rhythm of the poem depends almost entirely on the inventiveness of the reader.
(Note: this poem is based on a description of Otto Neurath’s scientific books for children at the V&A museum.)

Guidance for Adults
Identify                 Information
Analyse       the    Consultation
Synthesise            Explanation

Tone and Subject matter:

The overriding tone of Anti-Gravity poetry is playful, purely because the reader needs to be playful in order to make sense of the disjointed series of words/ phrases. .It might just be a quirk of my personal style that all of my Anti-Gravity poems are fairly light. I may experiment  with more serious subject matter, but no promises.

-Unseen Flirtations

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