Approach And Perspective

Simply defined, approach means how a poet articulates beliefs or depicts entities or settings within and beyond the natural world. An approach is a strategy and usually involves a device that a poet uses to discuss and/or describe the extranatural. It might be a lecture (device) delivered in heaven (setting), or it might be a religious or supernatural figure (device) through whom the poet speaks in a real place like a cafeteria or a surreal one like a wormhole in space (setting). The possibilities and combinations are endless, but the goal is the same: to convey beliefs in vivid or surprising ways.

Those beliefs are products of perspective, a concept explained in the previous chapter. You may recall that the poet observes nature (perception) and then interprets it (perspective). Perspective also is influenced by cultural filters, as we saw in the poems of Sharon Klander and Charlene Blue Horse.

Keeping all that in mind, consider the prefix extra in the term extranatural poetry (something beyond nature). You could argue that perspective is more difficult to fathom when it is not necessarily based on perception in the real world. Moreover, if any human sense is vital in extranatural verse, it may be the sixth sense: intuition. If you prefer another word, substitute faith or fantasy.

Now you are beginning to understand the challenges associated with composing poems that are, literally, out of this world.

Anyone who has edited a literary magazine will tell you that each year poets submit reams of extranatural poetry, often in the form of religious, surreal or fantasy verse. Much of it is bad. The chief reason is that the work lacks an authentic or vivid setting and tends to compensate for that shortcoming by using empty words, as this quick poem illustrates:

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