Craft Essay: Nonlinear Time and Poetic Structure

by Frances Donovan

An issue I’ve struggled with time and again is how to incorporate multiple scenes in a single poem while still maintaining unity and clarity. Dividing a poem into separate sections with roman numerals or asterisks may work, but not all poems are long enough to justify multiple parts, nor does this method evoke the seamless way a particular sense perception or situation can trigger associations with another time and place.

Proust and his madeleine are a famous example: the taste of a cookie kicks off the epic, multi-volume novel Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). Few modern poets have the luxury of such sprawl. But regardless of the length of the poem, one must still learn how to deal with nonlinear time in a way that mitigates the possibility of a confused reader. We experience time in a single dimension (past to present), but the way we think about time is multi-dimensional. It includes past, present, future, and possible divergences from a single outcome.

I set out in search of poems that dealt with the issue of multiple moments (past, present, future, and possible). Continue reading “Craft Essay: Nonlinear Time and Poetic Structure”

Boston Area Poetry Readings for October and November 2016

Poetry readings in Boston and environs abound well into November this year. Of special note: a celebration of Latin American Poetry at the Center Communities of Brookline on Sunday, October 16; Liz Janick and Grey Held at Newtonville Books on Monday, November 7; and three evenings in a row of readings at the Granoff Center for the Arts in Providence, Rhode Island.

Full listings follow.

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for October and November 2016”

Boston Area Poetry Readings for October and November 2015

I usually post only the upcoming month’s reading so as not to overwhelm you, gentle reader. But Daniel Bouchard, the poet who compiles these listings, sends dates much farther into the future. Time moves faster in the fall in Boston, so here’s a cornucopia of readings for the next six weeks. Get some dates on your calendar now before it’s full of harvest festivals, Halloween parties, and turkey dinners.

Thursday, October 15, 7 pm
Central Square Press Editor Enzo Silon Surin and Afaa Micheal Weaver
Trident Café and Booksellers
Boston Poet Spotlight Series
338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for October and November 2015”