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REFLECTIONS ON MY POEMS

1: GENERAL ASPECTS

Section Index


  1. Why writing poems?
  2. How a poem comes into being
  3. Length
  4. Rhyme & Rhythm
  5. Stylistic Devices & Authorship
  6. Structure
    Interlude: Poesis and Mimesis
  1. Categories and Groups
  2. The Choice of Language
  3. The Impact of Language
  4. Influences
  5. A Much More Personal Level
  6. Meaning - Interpretation - Analysis

  What's Related  
  Subsequent Pages - Poems  
 






1: Why writing poems?

Writing movie reviews, well, I guess that is sort of normal. Giving some information about tv shows, or links etc., that's quite usual. Writing essays, well, that's not really what everybody does, but it's okay. But writing poems? Who the hell writes poems? Just some crazy guys you might think. Well, consider me crazy, but I do it. I write poems. Whether this makes me a poet or not, that's not for me to decide but for you.

But the question remains, why am I doing it. You know, I myself do not have an answer to that. Why do we do the things we do? I mean, not such things like eating and drinking and sleeping and other biological functions; although one could also question and analyze these activities. But not here, not now. Later perhaps. No, I'm talking about what we do for leisure or for work, what we consider important or less necessary. Do you have the answers to all those questions? Do you always know why you do the things you do? There can perhaps, or rather very probably, justifications been given, explanations. But such answers do not remain without constructions. What might seem like an answer might also be an excuse.

Why do I write poems? To give you some justifications, I might say that I do it because I've found a way to express myself, a way to deal with my inner self, a way to produce something which could last longer than my physical existence. I could also intend to make money with it, but come on, who makes money with poetry? At the end, you even have to pay for having your poems published. That's why I've included them into my homepage - thereby sparing you the costs to buy them. - But are these the right answers? Isn't there anything more to it?

Maybe I should look back to my first poem. Why did I write it? I do not know. It just came into being. I was hiking in my summer vacations, and somehow some phrases came into my mind. At the same time, I was also working on a novel, thinking I could use something as a prologue, so I finished this poem. The novel didn't make it, however, or let's say, it didn't make it yet. But the poem survived and demanded for a sequel - thereby starting it all. But still it was no regular activity for me to write poems - check out the Poems Chronology to see that during the first years (1991 - early 1995) my poem output was quite moderate, also I was varying more or less the same topic.

All that changed during the time of my military service - ranging from October 1995 to July 1996. Such times very much make you question your identity and force you to arrive at some answers, and for me the answer resulted in an increased poem output. I also started to write English poems, having come to trust my abilities to write in that language. By now I almost hesitate to use another language to write in - especially German - because I've fallen in love with the English language and do not really want to go back to where I started. But there are some loose ends still to be tied, thereby demanding for a continuation (groups 4, 5, 6 and 9). So by now, writing poems has become quite a normal activity. The decline of my output rate in 1998 was due to my establishing this web site, and thereby writing for the internet became my priority. Now, with having my poems included into my site, this has changed, now I have my priorities combined, you can expect me to write more poems again. But why - that's still an answer I both can't and won't find an answer for. That's the way it is, and I even like it.

PJK
May 28th, 1999







2: How a poem comes into being

When I write a poem, I do so because I've thought of a certain phrase or even of a certain word. These fragments initiate my making a note of it, resulting either in a diary entry or in a poem, or in something else having to do with writing. But when I find an interesting rhyming or rhythmic structure, you bet I make a poem of it. So in the beginning, there is a little spark of light, an idea, you might also call it inspiration. That might sound old-fashioned, but that's the way I perceive it.

With this idea in mind, I usually start making an outline of it. Sometimes the title comes first, sometimes the title is applied to the completed structure. Some poems I just wrote because of a catchy title (like 'Fire Walks With Me', 'Dreams Deep Down', 'Fade to Black' and 'Transitions'). And sometimes it is a certain line or certain lines making me write the whole thing (like the first two lines of 'Faces').

The rhyme developes in either of two ways: Either it lies within the certain idea, or I just follow a certain scheme, mostly AABB. Same holds true for the rhythm. For the number of stanzas, the usual number would be six, but I'll come to all these little details in the subsequent parts. By now I think I've made it quite clear that I do not have a certain recipe, so to say, to produce a poem. Mostly, it just happens to come into being.

If you are an avid follower of this site (which I of course hope you are, but I also have to be realistic - who cares), you will have noticed my being interested in post-structuralist ideas very much (for that, see General Discussion or the essays & papers section in general). That surely makes me think about my position as a writer in general - what do I write, what do I create, what do I contribute to the general discourse of reality.

The answers to these questions might be as disturbing as well as producing headaches, but they can also be quite simple, and I have found them to be quite logical too. The key to answering them has to lie in how we define ourselves. Of course it is me writing these poems physically, I lead the pen or type the keys, the thoughts are coming from my mind. But what is a mind, what is an individual person? How do we function in society and in the universe? We do not know how to answer the latter question, but we might find some clues towards the first one. What are our thoughts? They are the result of our perception and how we have learned to deal with it, how we have been conditioned or even constructed to deal with it. I have thought about that in 'Constructions' and Intertwined, pt. 10. I will not pretend to have any definite answers, I will not pretend so by further discussing it now.

May 28th, 1999







3: Length

Perhaps it is something like a male obsession with size that the length of a poem is of some importance for me, but I also think this is something which can be found throughout the entire literary history of mankind. There was always a tendency to created bigger and bigger things, longer and longer ballads and epics, just check out the average size of a Stephen King novel. As well as that, the average movie length has increased quite much in the last years since movies like Star Wars. Or consider the growing length of synmphonies, starting with the relatively short pieces written by Haydn, leading to the monumental style of composers like Bruckner, Mahler and Shostakovich. Also, today's soundtrack CDs gratefully contain much more music than those published twenty years ago, normally you have 50+ or, in the best case, 70+ minutes of music on them. Perhaps it has to do something with most of such works still being produced by men, but don't count on it.

"Size Does Matter" was the motto of Roland Emmerich's incarnation of 'Godzilla', and that's true to a certain extent. Equally true is the counter-motto I've seen on a web site, stating "Plot Does Matter" - thereby indicating that mere size is nothing like a sole criterium for quality. Size is nice as long as it ain't the sole purpose of a work, although I have to admit some poems of mine were structured to grow big. But I do not aim for size but for contents, size is a side-effect, although not an unimportant one.

A very decisive element of size is that afterwards you can lean back, smile, and say to yourself: "I did it". To being able to write such a large structure in verse is something I have always been fond of. That might sound silly, but it's nonetheless true. This is the principle by which works like the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, today's skyscrapers and the Space Shuttle were influenced by - to prove that it can be done, to prove that it can be done by oneself. But equally, size does also matter in the opposite sense. I might have written some large poems, but the bulk of them is relatively small.

Somehow it might sound difficult to construct a large poem, but it is equally difficult to write a small one - as this demands for concentrating the contents into a much more dense, compact form. Thus the challenge might be just as great, although the process as such doesn't take that much time. Right now, on my desk is lying part of my manuscript of my 100th poem, named 'Centum'. I'm aiming at making it my largest one yet, thus it has to exceed 'Species Fallax', which is quite a simple calculation. This might sound sarcastic, and it is intended to be. But the act of writing takes much longer, thus making it even more difficult to maintain continuity - thus making it also improbable that I will be writing only poems as long as this one.

The possibilities within a larger poem are also greater to achieve certain effects by specific stylistic devices such as repetitions, parallelisms and climaxes as well as anti-climaxes. But still I like the simplicity of a small poem, two of my personal favorites being 'Enter the Mind' and 'Judgement Time'. But the sheer numerical magnitude of my poems is located somewhere between these two extremes.

PJK
May 28th, 1999







4: Rhyme & Rhythm

One of my preferences with poems is that they should rhyme. I don't know whether this is somewhat stupid or not, but it is the case nevertheless. That, however, doesn't mean I wouldn't like at all poems without a rhyme; it's just that I prefer it in another way. Rhyme is something which provides the verses with a kind of continuity; it is one piece of order applied to words of chaos.

One other element which brings some external order into poems is rhythm. Rhythm might be an even stronger device than rhyme, that's why there are quite some poems without a rhyme but definitely with some kind of rhythm to be found. Like for instance Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". Those poems mightn't rhyme, they mightn't have a constant underlying rhythm scheme, but they carry within their lines a certain pace which is thrusting the story forward.

Actually I am using both rhyme and rhythm as some kind of challenge also: It would perhaps be easier to just write down my thoughts, without any rhyme and rhythm. They might also be easier to understand. Also, in earlier poems of mine, you'll see that I changed rhythm throughout the poem, that the metrum isn't a constant one. That of course happens when the thoughts try to form the words - in later poems, I try to let the words form the thoughts. Some lines I wouldn't ever have written if it hadn't been for rhyme and rhythm dictating them to me. While this can also lead to some nasty extremes, just using words which try to rhyme, I always try to make sense of the words. But actually, the rhyme helps me to keep focused.

Where I've spoken about rhythm I perhaps should've said metrum; with metrum meaning the constant pace in the background. My favorite kind of metrum in English poems is a jambic one, while I also might vary that. With German poems this is mostly difficult, usually the line which makes me write the poem, which comes into my mind first, sets the rule for the entire piece. There is also another element to this: The length of a verse. By this, I either allow the thoughts to organize in a more flexible way (i.e. in longer verses) or in a much more inflexible, much more demanding way (i.e. in shorter verses).

Another thing yet to mention is when I let the meter overtake the flow of words, let the meter hammer the thoughts in a kind of very obvious way into the poem - you can find this technique applied at the climax of poems like 'Dreams Deep Down' (last six lines of the fifth stanza), or in 'Transitions', in which I actually applied this to the entire poem. And this leads us right into the next part.

PJK
June 4th, 1999







5: Stylistic Devices & Authorship

When in school, you hopefully hear a lot about so-called stylistic devices being applied in poems and any other kind of literature. Being applied - that's what usually is said. Being applied. I would prefer, being found. For application would imply some sort of active involvement on the part of the writer. Isn't that so? What is a stylistic device if not something used to create a certain style? My problem with this, as you might or might not have guessed, is to what degree the writer is also the author of the poem.

To say it bluntly: Some things happen. I might not be Shakespeare, I might not be Whitman, but after having written more than one hundred poems plus some essays, after also being involved into other projects of mine, I think I can dare to say I have a certain experience with these things. As said above, I do not know whether or not that makes me a poet. But I can claim a certain amount of poetry as my own. So, what do I think about the traditional conception of dealing with a poem?

Stylistic devices are something which are better observed as occurring than as having been applied. Or, the term application has to lose something of its connotational implication of some conscious activity on the part of the producer of the work. Some things happen. Some rhymes just come into mind, some words just imply the use of other words. Sometimes some verses flow that gently into each other that there is no need to worry about the poem being finished. Sometimes also a poem lies on my desk for days, weeks, even months, unfinished, awaiting a conclusion. Sometimes writing it is hard work, sometimes it comes as naturally as thinking out loud.

Go on, try to find specific stylistic devices, and you perhaps are going to find them. Go on, try to ask for my motivation behind these devices, and I'm sure you'll certainly come up with something like that. Go on, search for a specific pattern, you'll find it. Seeing is believing, believing is seeing. But from the irony behind my words here you'll surely have caught my attitude towards this. I do not oppose looking for style, not at all. But not everything of that is conscious creation. And I haven't even raised the question of authorship from a truly post-structuralist standpoint here (again, check Intertwined, pt. 10).

What, to face this problem now more closely, what is an author? What is this conflict all about? - The Latin word auctor means something like a doer, a creator, somebody who invents and makes something. But the verb this noun is derived from is augere, meaning to increase or enrich something. So within the concept of authorship there is a certain underlying conflict: That of describing on the one hand a creation of something, on the other but a variation. Within the discourse of reality, for material beings authorship can mean nothing but variation. We are bound by the restrictions of reality, we belong to our cultural discourse - we are inside of it, part of it. What we speak is determined by what we have heard, what we have seen, what we have perceived. I can just be a scriptor, a writer, no author in the truest sense. That holds true for every single one of us. I might utter the words, I might shape the words into a certain form, but the thoughts I think which make this all possible: of these thoughts I do not know their origin. The discourse of reality belongs to nobody, it is public domain. The only thing we can lay claim on is copyright.

PJK
June 9th/13th, 1999







6: Structure

The structure behind an essay or a poem is of quite some importance to me - it guides me through the production process, also, there can lie a meaning or a message even in the plain way of structuring things. The same holds true for a title, although sometimes a poem is being named after it is being written, sometimes beforehand. That depends on how it came into being, but I discussed that already in part 2.

Another influence on structure is the intended length of a poem. There are certain ways to arrive at a certain length which can be achieved with laying out a structure in advance (for instance the length of each line, the number of stanzas, the compilation of stanzas into certain parts, to apply a prologue/epilogue or not, etc.). If you have already written a certain number of poems with a certain rhyme and rhythm, you very much can calculate the length in before, but I usually don't do that. Only when I really intend to produce a larger poem.

Usually I choose to write six stanzas. I do not know why, it just happened in my first poem and I continued that as some kind of a tradition. But to each rule there are exceptions, and there are quite a lot. One exception is to write a prologue and an epilogue to it, or that I subdivide the structure into different parts (like in 'Creator Mundi' or in 'Species Fallax' ), another is to just change the number of stanzas. Mostly that happens when I either think I'm finished (resulting in less than six stanzas) or still have something to say (more than six) - you get the picture.

Another part of that obsession with structure is the management of poem categories and poem groups. Usually a group contains three categories and each category three poems. That might vary slightly in some groups, but I would consider it a general rule nevertheless. The idea behind these groups is firstly to make the sheer amount of poems managable, second, to arrange them in a thematic way, third, to arrange them in a sort of chronological matter, although that wouldn't hold true entirely, some groups take me months, some years to finish. But the most decisive element is the fourth - to sorth the poems by language.

The structure behind is important to me, but it ain't more important than the content of the poem. The structural framework is just something I feel comfortable applying, there is no deeper sense to it than what I mentioned so far. Do not try to interpret it as something else than it is, it would be a waste of time and effort, with just some exceptions where the number of stanzas indeed has a meaning.

PJK
July 3rd, 1999







Interlude: Poesis and Mimesis

After having bothered you now with remarks on my writing poems, I will take a break from the ultimate details and turn over to a more general topic - that of what poetry means per se. The definition of poetry is something which might manifest differently in each culture and also depending on the writer as the first authority. There might very well be a difference of opinion between what you understand as poetry, and what I think poetry should be like. But I do not want to go into that much detail here, for my personal definition of what poetry means changes moment by moment even. There is no fixed scheme in my mind, contrary to what I might pretend to you and to myself also. My definition of poetry are the poems I have written, and the poems I will write in the future. Everything else is just wish-thinking.

Poesis is the reflection on the linguistic devices the writer has, it makes use of language in a way mostly different from day-to-day language. Form is the key to poetry, while contents is the key to prose. But that doesn't mean that either category wouldn't matter in the respective other form of writing - it's a matter of degree. I understand the term poetry also in a wider sense - all songs are poetry also, they even are the truest form of poetry. Rhythm and meter are most obvious within music. Furthermore, even music without words can be seen as poetry - as a universal poetry, stripped of all elements of prose and obvious content music is truly emotional, truly a synthesis of emotion and thought and logic - ambivalent in its meaning, but not less meaningfull.

Mimesis imitates or represents aspects of reality, actions especially. Mimesis delivers the story to a work of literature. But the story is much more important for prose writing, for poetry I consider it less important. But there of course are syntheses between both - antique works like Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, or Ovid's Metamorphoses, but also the ballads of Goethe and Schiller. Works like these tell a story in a form belonging to poetry. There is also a counter-example: Poetry is well-known to students for its poetic and stylistic devices. But when you analyze a Latin text like by Cicero or Seneca, you'll find a lot of these elements of poetry in a text belonging to the category of prose. Borderlines.

So what? Are we supposed to make a decision? But why? What improvement could there be by making a selection of what belongs to which category? What are these categories for? Or, to be more concrete, are these categories univalent? My answer to this might sound a bit like an escape from the choice, but what would that choice be for anyway? Such categories are multivalent - a certain term has to be re-invented for each task, as each task might present us new façades of reality. When we talk about stylistic devices, of course Cicero and Seneca would count among the greatest poets for they mastered language in an extraordinary way. If it comes to prose, Homer and Ovid are amongst the greatest storytellers because their works, although poetry, tell stories of the greatest magnitude. Applying a category without looking at the context is doing no good at all, it's l'art pour l'art.

What now is it I write? Ça depend - there are poems of mine where the focus lies clearly on the story, on a message, on a story even. Among those would count the poems in Group 1: Progressio and Group 4: Lautatio . But others are much less issue-oriented. Can there be poems which are more poetry than others? You see, hiding behind conventions, terms and definitions can very well lead to the kind of confusion and complexion these definitions originally were to diminish and eliminate. But there is no easy way, there never was and there never will be.

PJK
July 12th, 1999







7: Categories and Groups

It might seem strange or even crazy to see how I arrange my poems so meticulously into categories and groups while other poets just write them. By the way, it even feels strange to consider myself being a poet - I dislike this word, it sound so super-sized, so self-fixated. I just write poems, that's it. I don't think about this naming thing that much. If others call me a poet, fine. But naming myself isn't that important to me - writing is more important. But when it comes to naming my writings, I suddenly become very decisive and pushing. Is this a contradiction? I think not.

First, the decisive thing. Deciding what poems belongs into what category is a matter of several factors as I've already mentioned in part six. The thematic arrangement certainly is important, but then the borders between some groups are very fluent - for instance, when you compare Group 8: Veritatio and Group 10: Disputatio. Here it is more a structure thing, and the differences are mostly in style as it changes slightly over time. The more I explore the language I write in, the more the choice of words changes. Sometimes I also ascribe a certain poem to a certain category or group because there is still an empty space to be filled. So much for consistency...

Second, pushing. Once I have a structure in mind it is like when a painter chooses his colors and the size of the canvas - the parameters are set, and the picture has to fit into the parameters. Likewise, and even more, categories and groups serve as a way to guide me through the writing process. When I plan a group, I am mostly heading for a certain idea, a certain structural idea carrying a thematic message - most obvious in my biblical poems of Group 4: Lautatio - or again, in groups eight and ten concerning to recurring images especially in the larger poems of these two groups, which conclude each of their categories.

Group and category structure can be understood as a storyboard, but it is a flexible thing. When I see something isn't working as it should, or when I have just all of a sudden written a poem with no particular pre-written title in mind, I might push it into an already existing group. There will be smaller poems coming up in the time to come, they will be different in style and will form a less-fixated group, Group 14: Fluctuatio.

Poem groups always get a Latin title. These titles are female nouns derived from verbs, the "-tio" suffix makes them substantives. They are so-called verbal abstracts and describe sort of the concept behind the verb. I will now provide you with a fitting translation of these titles, they might not coincide with the meaning of the English noun derived from it:

Some of the categories or poems have Latin titles too. Concerning to pronunciation, I prefer classic Latin: "c" is always supposed to be pronounced as /k/, "-tio" as /tio/ with an audible /t/ etc. Now that it's said, you may pronounce it whatever you want to. Just be prepared when you someday will hear it pronounced differently.

PJK
August 28th, 1999







8: The Choice of Language

Once I started writing poems, I did so in my native language, German - which is kind of naturally I think. But already my 14th poem, 'Running Gag' (1995), I wrote in English, and I continued writing some English poems in 1996 until the balance shifted in 1997, where almost half of my poems were already in English, while today, a German-language poem of mine is sort of rare. As I see it, right now there need 17 poems still to be written in German, located in groups 4, 5, 6 and 9. Well, later perhaps. But right now I prefer English.

Why choose English when I am a German native? Why longing for another world when I have one right here? I do not think that there can be a satisfying explanation to this, I for one cannot give it to you. It is just something like a feeling, like an innner knowledge of what is true for me. But what I am glad for are two things: Being a native German makes me being able to speak that horribly complicated language which I believe I never could have learnt otherwise, and second, it allows me to approach the English language from an outsider's perspective, which is really something special, something I'm glad happened to me.

Foreign languages make you more aware of the choice of words, language itself becomes an experiment, a new realm to discover. I am utmost excited when I deal with foreign languages, and what I would never have wanted to believe when I was at school was that I actually am addicted to learning other languages. That doesn't mean I find it easy, it just means I have an utmost strong motivation to do it. As I grew up in the Soviet-controled GDR, I had to learn Russian at school. Also I learnt English and some French. At university I at first studied physics for one semester, but I quit because I didn't like it from the very first day on. When I started studying history, I also started learning Latin - that was when I knew I had made the right decision. Later on I started with French and Spanish, and am now doing some Italian, but the latter not at university. At some point I'm rather interested in how the language works and how you can compare all these languages than in actually speaking it - I like grammar, I like etymology. I do not like actually learning the words. But that belongs to the experience I guess.

When I referred to English as a foreign language, then this is true just theoretically or in respect to the past. Practically, English is common to me now, I watch most movies in English and read a lot in English, especially for my studies. And, most of all, I maintain these web pages - so I'm having quite a practice. I mightn't be perfect yet and there are still some mistakes of mine, mostly as I'm not using English in daily situations, but it is far from foreign to me. And with the Internet, which is mostly in English, there are no national borders anyway.

As English grows more common to me day by day, it is only natural that I'm interested in other languages to explore, which explains my attempts at writing French and Spanish poems (Group 12), I also will do something in Latin some day. If I can dare to say it is art I do, then this art needs to explore new territories to remain creative. That's part of evolution, part of life. And also, I do not like getting bored, and I do hope I don't bore you, dear reader.

PJK
August 28th, 1999







9: The Impact of Language

Language, as the primary object and transmitter of poetry, naturally has a grave influence on poetry itself. It not only determines the lexicon of words from which the writer makes the choice, but also it carries with it certain secondary elements like the sound of the words, the meter, cultural and etymological associations and a certain feeling. English is different from German, for instance, not only because vocabulary and grammar are different, the difference to me goes much deeper. A writer has to find his or her language, one he feels comfortable in. For me, this has become English; but I also do write in other languages. It is the impact of language which often makes some things work, and others not.

Language carries a certain meaning; that's the content of the words, of the lexicon. Concepts, actions, objects, persons - all of these need to be reflected in a language in a discernible way, in a way which would allow communication. The lexicon of different languages is different - thus not only the words differ, but sometimes different words also reveal different concepts, different modes of thinking behind. For instance, the German word "Himmel" represents two different concepts which, in English, would translate into two separate words, "sky", the secular, and "heaven", the religious component. This difference in focus not only makes learning another language a fascinating and revealing process, it also enlarges your own horizon.

Different languages also carry different kinds of grammar, different kinds of grammatical means. Grammar is the mathematics of language, it is the structure behind; it creates order in chaos, it guides the cacaphony of words into a direction which enables comunication. English, with its simplified grammar (in that it has no case endings anymore and a much more simpler tense system than other languages), reduces language often to word stems and affixes, making rhyming a completely different process. Spanish, on the contrary, might not have a case system either, but the verbs are to be conjugated - so that you can achieve simple rhymes much easier when you put verbs at the end which are in the same tense and person.

Meter is another thing influenced by language; mostly depending on word length and an innate speech pattern - English is somehow the ideal choice for a iambic meter; as the language itself very often follows this meter also in normal prose, although this mightn't be so pronounced as in poetry. Also, English, having perhaps the largest vocabulary of every language in the world, also has quite some selection of shorter words - an average iambic verse in English can contain more words and more content than a comparable one in German.

Experimenting with different languages creates different poems - the poem itself is guided by language, some things are even only made possible by this choice. Out of this reason also it is that I haven't translated any of my German poems yet, nor do I want to do it in the future: Translating a poem is impossible as the job isn't done by translating the content. What's lost is rhyme, meter and feeling of the language - the impact of language creates the poem to a large extent; poems are language specific in the most drastic way.

PJK
September 11th/14th, 1999







10: Influences

Nobody exactly can create something entirely his own; there are always influences, there are always things that make you do it, things that trigger a reaction or even have a greater impact. To do something, usually what you need is some kind of a predecessor. This predecessor can also be something very abstract, like the idea that something needs or can be done; only very few things happen out of thin air. To arrive at a point here: To write a poem, you first have to have an idea of what a poem is. To make use of language, a language has to exist.

So what are my predecessors? What are my triggers? Well, while these influences may exist, you yourself actually needn't know about them - a lot of things happen unconsciously. Thus I myself am not quite so sure as to either why I write poems nor why I write them the way I do. One of my earliest examples might be Goethe, of course, but that's just more concerning some elements. The topics I write about I think are a bit different from his. Also, I don't write ballads - at least, I haven't until now. But the way I wrote my first larger poems might be reminiscent of Goethe, the last stanza of 'Ode an Terra' being inspired by his 'Osterspaziergang' from the first part of Faust.

In writing English poems, it is even much more difficult to actually name a certain poet as having had an influence on my writings - as I started writing English poems way before I read some. Some influences might be found in Poe or Whitman, but again just not in the way that I would actually be able to name a pattern. For my French and Spanish poems, there are no examples I looked at because I haven't proceeded that much into these languages. I wrote my first poems while studying basic grammar and vocabulary - same as with English once. So don't look for something which simply isn't there.

With the thematic background, it is different. The topics for Group 2 are strongly influenced by Faust (in using the character of Mephistopheles = Phorkyas), Group 4 being variations on Biblical themes, and throughout groups eight, ten and eleven, recurring images are being referred to which might be known from tv shows like Twin Peaks ("Fire Walk With Me"). In the 'Centum', Christian and Buddhist themes will be united. Since 'Constructions', I've also been exploring post-structuralist topics with my poetry.

Another thing I still can't explain is why I number my stanzas, why I make use of categories and groups in such an utmost orderly manner. I guess it's a way of ordering things which I once thought would help me sorting them out more easily; and then I just continued doing so. It is rather something I do out of habit now; and it has proven to be a productive scheme. But don't ask me where this originates from. I have no idea.

PJK
November 23rd, 1999







11: A Much More Personal Level

Writing papers for any kind of studies is something of a non-personal matter, mostly it is kind of a dry work, research, only rarely to be combined with a strong utterance of a personal opinion. Essays are somehow different as they are less strict in structure and topic - but still they are rather topic-oriented and written in the intent of appealing to a larger audience. Diary entries, at least those made publicly available, i.e. miscellaneous thoughts and reflections on loose fragments of thoughts, that's more personal but still not the hard stufff. Poems, however, are different.

Poems are perhaps the most private and intimate form of expression, more private even than painting and music, and similar to a private diary, if not even stronger. Poetry carries emotions as well as innermost thoughts in a special kind of disguise, in a disguise not masking enough. Through poetry, there cannot be reached such a kind of deception as within prose. Within poetry you can't really hide - unless of course you flee into the realms of a mixture between poetry and prose, like it would be with the genre of epos. But when you don't hide behind a story, you yourself will be more visible than in any other way. Such kind of poetry isn't restricted to poems, however, it's more about style than about form.

It also is about imagery - about what you see. Like with painting, your more or less unique perspective is allowed to shine through, you shape the words and thoughts and verses and sentences by what you feel rather than by what you think; these lines of feeling only disrupted and canalized by rhyme and meter and stanzas, if such things are applied. Totally free verse doesn't any more care about these things; but from an aestetic standpoint it might be less amiable, less pleasing. But when even these restrictions fall, you can come near to something more radical, to a deconstructed poetry (which I tried to experiment with in 'Breakdown').

To publish poetry, be it in a book or on the web, is always kind of a risk. You risk exposing your innermost thoughts and wishes, to expose yourself to the criticism of others. But why should you write something like that in the first place if not for an audience? Expression requires and audience to make sense in the first place. It's no use writing something and then hold it back because you'd fear for criticism. You're going to be criticized - but you also can be rewarded. And even criticism is a reward - it is the only thing which helps you to stay objective and to improve yourself.

Once you've made the first step others have to follow. It's not going to be easy, it's most surely going to be painful. But that's life. Get over it. Risks have to be taken - there's no sense to hide behind your fear. There's no sense abandoning hope, there's no sense abandoning your dreams. As Scully said in the X-Files movie: "Don't think - just make it happen."

PJK
November 27th/28th, 1999







12: Meaning - Interpretation - Analysis

When you have a poem in front of you, after or while reading it, usually there arise questions regarding its content, its meaning, its agenda. Especially at schools it is usual that you try to analyze and interpret the respective piece, to check out all available and assignable stylistic devices, to make all possible and impossible assumptions and try to delve into the biography of the writer to find anything of worth to explain what's left unanswered. Sadly, most of the times you try to do that, the author's either dead or not available, like it is the case with Thomas Pynchon who sort of lives undercover.

I do not live undercover, but I'm not as important as these other authors. I'm just a student. However you might some day want to ask me about certain poems of mine, expecting to get an answer. As generous as I would like to be, my answer would have to be to forget it - there's no use trying to make me explain my poems. If someone creates something which is not easily to be understood, this is supposed to be just what is intended: Confusion created to create confusion. That's the idea of it. Analyze the use of stylistic devices. Fine. Try to think about it. Even better. But don't expect me to explain anything - this would be wrong; for me it would be wrong if I answered such questions. But why?

When you have a painting and you ask several people for their opinion, for what they see in it, you would get various and differing answers: You cannot expect to arrive at the ultimate conclusion or something like an overwhelming and general truth. People do have different ways of perceiving things, they have a different background, a different history, different knowledge, different taste, different discourses they are either interested in or part of - infinite diversity in infinite combinations; that might be confusing but even more it is enriching - there is a lot of strength in ambiguity; and much more honesty than would be assumed.

Who am I to explain my poems - my perspective is just like any other. I might tell you where I deliberately used a certain stylistic device, where I had certain things in mind. But if you followed this essay closely, and also the remarks to the respective groups, then you have read all there is to read about it. There is no greater truth that I would have access to. I'm part of the general discourse of culture, just as you yourself are. There are no answers to be given by me because I do not have them. What I could tell you doesn't have any relevance to the topic.

Also, a storyteller or an artist - if I may call myself so - has to hold certain things back, has to obscure certain things to create apprehension and suspense. There needs to be a discrepancy between what you know and what you'd like to know - by this discrepancy motivation is fueled; if you give away all that is to be given away, people will shrug and go away. Likewise, a magician is better not to explain his tricks. So all I can say about interpreting my poems is that I - as a human being - am part of a certain discourse, that there are certain things around me that make me who I am. These surroundings may be different from yours, well, they surely are. But they are also connected. We share language, technology and the needs and hopes of a human being. I cannot grow out of the discourse of humanity as I am a part of it - neither can I escape past and future.

PJK
November 30th, 1999





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