Poems that slip and slide around meaning



Sculptures by David Cerny, Prague, photographed by J. Mellor

I recently had the good fortune to receive a favourable review in The Manchester Review, which said: ‘what Mellor actually seems to be doing is playing poetry at its own game, using the ability of the poem to slip and slide around meaning, seemingly under the writer’s control, but not’ (Ian Pople). It was interesting that Pople picked up on this, because it’s a direction I want to follow. However, there’s always a fear that in playing with the meaning and trying, for want of a better expression, to disrupt it, the poems will amount to nothing more than games with words. I’ve just started reading Steve McCaffery, after seeing him read at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield a couple of months ago. He’s a poet who consciously moves away from what we might call the expected meaning, to confront and confound the reader. It’s experimental literature, but for all the difficulties it presents, what I love about it is the risks it takes. Like the Babies sculptures by David Cerny above, you have to think a bit before you can even decide how to read them, but they’re so open to possibility. I’m off to the Poetry Business Writing Day tomorrow. I don’t expect to write anything experimental because it’s not that sort of workshop, but I’m taking a new poem to share in the afternoon which tries to ‘slip and slide’ around meaning a little. It will be interesting to hear what the other writer’s make of it!




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