A quick browse of the Internet recently led me to the challenge: write a deep poem.
I don’t really want to argue with the fact that some poems are deeper than others, but the notion doesn’t quite sit completely comfortably with me. It’s not poems that are deep as such, but a combination of the content and topic expressed and the thought that lies behind the poem and is instilled within the reader. Depth, to me, should not be viewed as something geological, as a certain range of topics considered more primary, more fundamental than others. Depth can instead be construed as a burrowing process, as trying to penetrate a surface, and discover the interior. And, moreover, complicate the surface by the revelation of this inside.
That said, of course, sometimes you can burrow a fair way down something and find very little change. The revelation of more-of-the-same is not always that interesting. Sometimes depth in the more clichéd sense we typically mean is the depth to which we can bury something external; what can we take down with us and rehouse? More significant for me is what we can do with the depths we have uncovered. We can open them to the field of our more shallow, open, general surroundings. We can forge connections, redistribute meaning.
And maybe sometimes depth is height. The depth of something is the amount of thought, of interconnected, integrated, accumulated concepts piled up behind one in the act of the conception and creation of the poem. The poem may only be the shallow sliver on top – the depth sits beneath it.
Or, to use a commercialised metaphor, why not state that the poem is the sealed film on the top of a Pringles tube. It can only go on once the tube has been built, and the thoughts that determine it have been assembled. And we remove the lid, and begin our own process of deconstruction, of destruction, of transformation.