Some folks on twitter responded very kindly to my whining about the vacuous nature of my research. So I’ve decided to blog about my moment of epiphany about a Bryce poem.
The poem is ‘The Spider’, which you can hear her read on my other site, PoetCasting. I’ve always considered this a poem variously about control, about walls, escape, power, fear and everything else the entrapment suggests. However, my view changed almost entirely when I read a short prose piece on the writing process.
For me, the art of writing is as much physical; the scribbling, crossing-out, spidering connections around the thought – that thinking in ink – is essential to the process.
Colette Bryce, ‘On First Drafts…: Thinking in Ink’, The Stinging Fly, 2.12 (2009), p. 30.
All of a sudden it seems that this poem could be about trapping a thought in a form. A form that is ‘there but not there’. The spider is the wandering and uncontrolled mind that the poet contains to the best of their ability.
Later, Bryce says:
Sometimes, I’ll write the poem in reverse, discover it backwards, from the last lines to the first.
Now, when I recorded her reading ‘The Spider’, we made another recording which eventually we decided not to post online. This was ‘The Spider’ in reverse, from the last word to the first. I didn’t really get this at the time – as a poem about entrapment it makes little sense to work backwards since much of the effect depends on the unveiling of the prison. As a poem about poetry, it makes more sense.
That isn’t to say it isn’t a good poem about entrapment and power etc. too.