Whether we think in words, images or concepts, does this affect the type of poetry we write?
What’s it like for you when you think? What about when you read? Do you hear words in your head? See images? Both? Or do you experience something else?
I love discussing this, particularly with those who are only just realising that it’s not the same for everyone. Frankly it freaks people out. Someone who has a noisy inner monologue, for instance, is often quite shocked when they realise that another person just thinks in wordless concepts. Or that a third person practically watches a movie in their head when they read.
But what about how we experience, and indeed write, poetry? Recently it struck me that perhaps the type of poetry we create may be very influenced by our thinking style.
For example, I’m a very word-based thinker and reader. I don’t really picture anything at all when I think – it’s all a big chitchat in my head, and all in my own voice. Reading is almost the same, although there is sometimes a little mental “picturing”. So a poem for me is a platter of sounds, throwing up ideas, connections and the odd fleeting, fuzzy image.
And what type of poetry do I write? Well, I love soundplay and very passionate about sounds that meld and clash. They are a very important part of the poem for me. Not all my poems rhyme, but rhyme is a great love of mine. I enjoy half-rhymes and not-even-that-close rhymes, I love alliteration and I cannot get enough assonance and dissonance. Likewise, I’m slightly obsessed with rhythm, and even if a poem doesn’t have a classic rhythmical structure, I usually need the rhythm to have some kind of shape in order for me to find writing the poem satisfying.
Which is all a long winded way of musing: do I write like that because for me the experience of a poem, the way I process the ideas, is almost nothing but words? That, for me, hearing an inner rhyme is as satisfying as looking at a sunset? That I cannot disconnect the meaning of a poem from the sounds that frame it? And, a big question – if I didn’t think like that, would I find wordplay to be just an irritating? A noisy and unnecessary distraction?
Or maybe not. Maybe this is just all nonsense. But if it is, it’s nonsense that sounds awfully good to me.
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