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Sunday 1 May 2011

In search of spacious poetry

Tate Modern's Turbine Hall:
a space to test conceptual powers -
almost to destruction.
How can an individual fill a space like this?
Though few are called and fewer chosen,
art eschews the easy victory,
prefers to fail at the impossible -
the task a metaphor for that
which faced the Great Creator when
the world was yet an empty shell.

But here in Turbine Hall is space
an ocean might not fill,
space that awaits a single concept, not a world
of possibilities. The thing about
this eeriness is what has gone:
the turbines that once powered a neighourhood.
It's these the installations must replace.
So much has vanished from our world,
our culture, our environment. From us.
We need to give the space that's left
a shape, dimensions, to define its emptiness.

can make the poet in us all
think small.
Yet poetry deserves its Turbine Hall,
a fairy godmother to call
and wave her magic wand,
to trace
something gargantuan in us,
in what we stand for,
that only poetry could fill. But
what a vastness and what poetry!
Mankind perhaps would end up looking small,
creation grow beyond today's imagination -
but individual man walk tall.

Do not suppose in saying "vastness" I mean "long".
Words do not fill such spaces by their numbers,
but by a coefficient of expansion. This,
the soul, and only it, can give.

The image is from the Wikipedia website


anthonynorth said...

It's good such places live on, redefining the on-going story of us.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. Wonderful poem. I particularly like the third stanza.

Isabel Doyle said...

I know it is not fashionable, but I love industrial archaeology, and the creative re-use of once mighty industrial places. I always think the Turbine Hall is like a latter day Cathedral - why not one to poetry? Yet poetry is often intimate and quiet, whereas the Turbine Hall calls for fanfares and kettle drums and a huge pipe organ ...

Did I enjoy your poem? of course.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

You once more in Blake's territory here seeing the world in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour... and the limitless possibilities of individual imagination.
What we need and must trust.

Unknown said...

I think a museum for the written word is a wonderful idea. It would be difficult to determine the poetry one would include in such a building.... bits of Shakespeare? .... song lyrics?..... famous sayings? ....... some art inspired by poetry? ...... biographies of poets and samples of their writing? ...... which countries and how far back? Would you have poetry readings live and a children's section? Would you have rooms set up where poets gathered or spaces they wrote about? I enjoyed your poem very much, Dave. Thank you for sharing this. My brain can obviously fill up a vast empty space very quickly. =D

flaubert said...

A lovely piece of writing, Dave. You should join us over at Brenda's worlde site on Sundays, here is the link,



Windsmoke. said...

A museum for the written word covering all types of writing like Linda suggests is a fantastic idea :-).

David Cranmer said...

And some of the best poetry is right here at Pics and Poems.

Btw it is poetry week at BEAT to a PULP. First up is Fred Zackel.

Dave King said...

Very encouraging, yes - and there seems to be a spate of them just now, downturn or no downturn.

Interesting - that was the first written.

You're right, of course. The turbine hall does call for the big gesture, though one so big that by definition must be a rare occurence. I was really suggesting that poetry should - just as rarely - be given the same opportunity to make a noise.

Yes, I wonder what he would have made of the Turbine Hall (or made for it!).

Wow, if we had more folk like you, we'd have had it up and running by now! Thanks fpr the contribution.

Thanks for that. I'll pop over, to be sure!

Absolutely agree!

Wow, very good of you to say so. And thanks for the tip. Will have a look.

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