#SOL14 - Ezra, Hiragana, and Me: Compressing Poetry

Last night was another luscious night of poetry. Here's one example that might be handy in class (especially with National Poetry Month just around the bend).

We looked at Ezra Pound's In a Station of the Metro:

There was some discussion about how this poem is an equation. Something = something else. I really like thinking about it that way; it helps me simplify the poem to discuss it with young writers. It would be easy enough to show them photographs of familiar items (grocery bag, slide, jump rope) and brainstorm what else those things could be, look like, sound like... if we stretch our imagination. Better yet, take a group on a walking field trip to photograph interesting items they want to choose as their own subject for a similar poem.

In class, our professor handed out copies of the Hiragana. He told us to look at the various characters, stretch our imagination, and see what happened.

Portrait of Ezra Pound courtesy of my professor, Dr. Gary Swaim

Here are a few I scribbled down in the time we were given:

Two rails, side by side, never parting;
the closeness of your foot near mine as we sleep.

Her round, perfect belly;
the moon, the ocean, all the space between.

Leg bent delicately, foot pressed to thigh;
this tree sways but stands firm.

I'm not where I need to be in the art of compression, but this is an excellent way to play around with words and gain skill painting grand pictures with few words -- a lesson from which all writers can benefit. I'm eager to share this with my own young writers soon.


  1. A new idea to try. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is a new type of poetry for me. I love the idea of compression - applying pressure, but not too much. Where are you taking the class?

  3. Marilyn, I just started my masters program at SMU in Dallas. It's a Liberal Studies program, focused on creative writing. :) Having tons of fun with it - this is my first class and I've learned so much already!