A few folks in recent weeks have shared Obligations 2, a formatted poem by Layli Long Soldier that is fascinating to read and powerful for the way its ideas flow in various directions. You can read the poem along different paths. Her use of “the grief” phrasing across the entire center of her poem is such an emotional anchor moment, one that caused me to pause each time, right at that anchor, before moving onward, and then re-reading along another path, only to pause again at “the grief” line.
I was curious about how to even begin to formulate this kind of poem, so I tried to give it a try. I began with the simple concept of a “start” and an finish point of “forever” in my poem. Somehow, it became a shape poem too, as I started to see the contours of the narrator emerging through the formatting. Now, I am not really sure that was a wise design choice – whether that adds to or takes away from the poem itself.
You can read my poem top-down and jump diagonal as well and still have a flow of the poem, but I don’t think it is nearly as effective or as powerful in narrative as Obligations 2 is.
Peace (and Poems),