Monday 13 February 2023


I like tight plots and neat endings. I like other structures too of course, but not the endings that look as if the author ran out of puff. Michael Donaghy used to get away with tight pieces but they seem out of fashion nowadays, especially in poetry, partly as a consequence of Forms being used less, and partly because more poems are in a voice, and people don't organise their thoughts neatly. There's more ostentatious unravelling than modest attempts to tidy up a little corner of the world. Certainty is suspect. Openness gives readers the chance to think that there's more to it than meets the eye.

Open-endedness isn't easy to do well. Multiple unspecified possibilities are easy to hint at. A character may finally gaze at the horizon, throw away a map, or close the door behind them, pause, then walk on - signifying a new start into the unknown. Or maybe an either/or option is ahead - a character may be deciding whether to say "yes" to a proposal, or to run. Harder is to somehow make the ending shed new light on the earlier content.

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