Poet Peter Sirr on the poem as sonic event

Peter Sirr (Pic via gallerypress.com)

Renowned Irish poet Peter Sirr was an interesting guest with Sean Rocks on RTE Radio 1’s Arena earlier this week.

More than three decades after his debut book, Peter was talking about his ninth collection of poetry, The Rooms, which was published recently by The Gallery Press.

And he had some interesting things to say about poetry technique, in which he suggests that rhythm is the most important thing.

He said:

Technique is an unconscious thing. I don’t think any poet sits down and consciously works at technique and says, “I must write a sestina now”, or “I’ll try a villanelle”. It comes much more organically than that.

A poem is not just a bunch of lines about something. It’s a sonic event. It’s an event in sound and imagination. A line will come to you, and it will ask for another line. A rhythm will suggest itself, much like I imagine a songwriter would work. So you’re thinking in terms of units of sound. And the sound of the thing is often what’s driving it forward, and that then fits into a shape or form.

Peter Sirr’s new collection, The Rooms, is published by The Gallery Press and he blogs about poetry here.

Peter, along with fellow poets, Enda Wyley and Michael O’Loughlin is teaching a nine-week course entitled “The Art of the Poem” at the Irish Writers’ Centre. The course starts on Monday, February 2 and costs €250 (discount for Irish Writers’ Centre members). Find out more about “The Art of the Poem” here.


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