I think the over-emulation of strangeness in modern poetry has led to something pernicious, a shunning of named emotion, direct statement, as though these were, by definition, unpoetic. Reading world poetry in translation, I'm struck by how naturally poets of other cultures can say a thing like "I am sad today” – the simple articulation of a state of mind – and how moving and human such a naked utterance can be, set amid the imagery of a poem. Why does our current aesthetic reject plain statement? Do we confuse simplicity with simple-mindedness—have we come to regard plain speaking as simple-minded? Are we so in thrall to the Creative Writing doctrine of "Show don't tell" that we have lost our ability to appreciate "telling" under any circumstances? Used judiciously, I vastly prefer direct statement of feeling to the fashionable poeticisms proliferating like an algae bloom in contemporary Canadian poetry: lapses into rhetorical, heightened language, solemn quasi-philosophical pronouncements that are really a kind of posturing, neither grounded nor emotionally honest – a retreat into high-sounding vagueness that dodges real emotion to deliver pseudo-emotion.
- Robyn Sarah, from her essay "Poetry's Bottom Line: Towards an Essay on Poetics" in Little Eurekas: A Decade's Thoughts on Poetry. You can read the whole essay here.