Monday, July 10, 2017

Obscure Clarity

"Obscure" is a word often applied in a negative way to poetry. It is an interesting word, meaning in this context usually something akin to, "I cannot find a narrative that guides me through the poem," of, if not guides, at least offers signposts along the way that help identify a theme.

I wonder if this charge of obscurity can be leveled at the visual images of a collage, or if visual images go beyond how verbal images make meaning in a viewer's consciousness. Even a pattern of colors (think patchwork quilt) can suggest a story: sunset; rainbow; autumn.

Can one, then, look at a poem as a verbal collage, and extract meaning in that way? I don't even think I mean "understand the author's meaning" here; I mean that level of meaning that comes when a reader "completes" the poem by finding meaning therein. Haiku, tanka, and related short-form poetry certainly allows for this aspect of collage-like suggested meaning(s), impressionistic images that the reader is welcome to use to construct a narrative, however brief.

It is, for me, the most satisfying and wondrous reason for writing and for making collages: being able to suggest, being able to tell a secret story, revealing all in the space between words or the space between scraps...


  1. __ Deep, Jean... input, and a mind so often becomes its own collage.

    one hundred readers
    each with their own ideas
    search in mind's collage

    __ Obscure directions to one clear mind: perhaps a new compound contronym may need to be invented for Obscure Clarity_? Obscularity_? Smiles. _m

    1. Wonderful! Thank you for these thoughts! I love the idea of the "mind's collage."