Yesterday, I picked up a golf club from the lawn. Normally a simple, easily forgotten task, unless you live in a place where the plant-life is voracious; I had to use surprising force to separate the club from the grass that had grown over it. It reminded me of a book of illustrations a creative writing teacher used to jump-start our imaginations… particularly the image I wrote about, where arms of vines snaked out of another illustration in another book towards a sleeping girl.
Some may argue that modern poetry has no use for imagery. I have certainly read many contemporary poems, both good and bad, without any graspable image. But the ones that are most memorable are those that leave us with some kind of sensory artifact: a sight, a noise, a smell, something to hang on to and make ours. The worst poems are those that feign authority, that purport to speak for everyone. The best poems are those that offer a gift, sometimes a piece of language or turn of phrase, but most often a plum, cold from the ice box, or the smell of trout frying in the kitchen.
Consider these images, then see what happens:All images are from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. Submissions can be sent here.