It’s getting busier and busier on the tube on my daily commute – I dread to think what it will be like during the Olympics. I’m trying to travel earlier, so there’s room to read. Currently it’s James Fenton’s Introduction to English Poetry. It’s also great because it’s quite a small book so I can get it up near my short-sighted eyes in a crowded tube carriage.
It’s making me think about the importance of formal values, of underlying structure, in art, in ceramics, in poetry. He looks at one of Dylan Thomas’s poems: ( full text)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
He described how this poem is structured as a ‘Villanelle’, a complex form usually used for sweet light verse, but utterly transcended by Thomas. I think the rigour of the form definately contributes to the power of the final poem.
I’m currently trying to use the forms of functional pots and their arrangements in welsh dressers, or corner cabinets, or boxes, as a kind of underlying structure for my work. Seeing how the lightness of a Villanelle can work for forceful poems makes me more optimistic that this is going to work out. I just delivered eight new arrangements to my absolutely excellent photographer Sussie Ahlburg so I’m particularly nervous about it at the moment. I can never tell what’s going to work as an image….