Sometimes we sit to write a piece and it flows, as if given to us, a gift from some perhaps unknown source. At other times we sit and ponder the thing before putting it to paper. At those times we must consider precisely what it is we wish to convey. What is the purpose of the piece? Perhaps there is an image that you wish to display, perhaps a thought you want them to explore. Perhaps it is more the structure of the thing that you wish to be notably appealing, some complex variation on a theme, lost on most readers. The intent behind the piece should dictate what methods are employed to convey such.
For example, we previously discussed a piece in which the intended point of interest was the imagery. In “The Muse” the rhymes are kept simple, the flow is easy to follow, the vocabulary is not challenging to the average reader. This allows the reader to be lost within the image itself and not a detail of the piece. What if we wish for far more subjectivity? To design a work around something intangible or abstract. This is where it gets fun.
First let us analyze what about the idea calls to you, is there an emotion, image, or sensation? That is what you will want to convey. Perhaps to you this thing appears in a great rushing cyclone of energy and intent. You could convey this in the rhythm of the piece, give it a heated clip as opposed to a casual gait. One might convey the nature of this great rushing thing by utilizing words that will catch your reader off guard. Listen to the way a word sounds. It may be harsh, gentle, abrupt or any number of adjectives. (If this concept is difficult to you, try saying the word ‘love’ in a harsh manner, and the word ‘curse’ gently. The hard ‘C’ gives the word a more biting tone, whereas in ‘love’ there are no terribly harsh consonants, only open flowing sound.) Another way of using word choice to effectively immerse the reader would be to use uncommon verbiage. This is the time to pull out those 25 cent words. One must be careful here, to choose too little known a word may serve only to distract your reader, we must instead select words that will catch the reader, sweep them from their feet and up into the rushing, hurling winds of this vortex of madness you create.
What if the reader doesn’t understand?
Again, I must stress the point that often it is for the reader to decide what the meaning of a piece is, not the poet. A poet may create a thing, but once he has released it to the world, given it life and wings to be carried to others, he has also released his ownership of the idea. That idea, perceived in whatsoever manner it may be can now never be retrieved and made again the purest creation of the originator. In giving a piece to anyone for viewing you are allowing them entrance into a thing. By doing so, you must allow that they will see only what they will see, that image may not necessarily be in line with your own. These perceptions are created based on two primary concepts; the information given to the reader, and the readers previous experiences. As the poet cannot be expected to know the experiences of the reader it is only natural, especially in subjective pieces, that the image gets a bit skewed. In that, however, it takes on a new life and is reborn. That may be the single greatest compliment to a poet, to see their work taken and empathized with by many, but all taking it to a different place. That is after all what we seek, to bring beauty to the world in some small way. In this, we touch many, we may not know in what way a piece will sing to another, but if it sings, that is all we need know.
When writing a subjective piece the finest line we must paint upon is that between our abstract thoughts and the readers empty canvas, waiting for something to grip to. How far is too far, that is the question. Here we fall to intent. Is it more important that a reader see your meaning, or that they be swept up in a thing and have no idea what you were talking about? These lay on either side of that line, stray too far in one direction and you lose that balance. Often we lean slightly one way or the other, perhaps we weave a bit on that line. If the deviation is congruent with the intent, keep it, if not, keep playing with it. You, being the poet, have all authority to make that choice of exactly what you are willing to give. Sometimes we need to have expectations, if only to learn if those are not met, perhaps we strayed too far.
Personally I adore subjective writing. I enjoy it when a writer can take me on a journey without naming the place or path taken. In that way, the piece is a gift. So give as you will. Take them where you will, show them what you wish them to see, and marvel at the things they find there that you never saw. Let them take the piece, only then may they enjoy it.