Recently, and much to my annoyance, chagrin, and well, I’m going to go with annoyance, Sampson, my sous chef, told me I write in a lot of metaphor. I had just gotten done handing him a poem that is riddled with metaphor, I get it, but it irked me. He, on the other hand, writes quite literally. Okay, not always; he did just use Othello in one of his raps he shared, and it was a metaphor.
The poem I wrote was filled with metaphor because I hadn’t wanted to state the obvious. The obvious is feeling like I’m in the middle of an ego war between my chef and sous chef. Do you honestly think I am going to spit that out as common knowledge? So metaphor is the only way to deal with it if I’m going to share it. Sure, using two chess kings and a queen make for a really good simile. Maybe because I feel like I’m on this playing field that is very much like a game at times. I’m the queen, by the way. I wrote the poem, read it off to my lovely writing group, but I did explain it to them. They got it.
I guess my question is, when is it too much metaphor? If I wrote it so that not everyone, unless I explained it, would know what I was talking about, but also anyone could read it and use it how they wanted, is that unreasonable? To me, no, but maybe I am going to metaphorical at times. I read Ada Limon and half the time I don’t know what she’s talking about, unless it’s a literal poem. I read many other poets that use metaphor all the time, or I don’t know if they are using metaphor because well, gosh darn it, I don’t know the poet. But do you think things can be too metaphorical at time?
I find it hard to always express myself in literal terms because it means being vulnerable if someone reads exactly what you are saying. So metaphor is a reliable tool when you want to say something, but don’t want to show your hand. Which is a lot of my life. That being said, I have used metaphor as just a way to express something more emphatically than if I was just stating it literally.
Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s Sampson. Maybe it was the day, or my mood or his mood, which was feisty, and I was irritated with him already because he left me hanging in a conversation and never answered. He still hasn’t answered. I’m sitting there on a ledge, dangling off or waiting for that push from behind and the push isn’t coming. See, there’s my form of metaphor.
Below is a sample part of a poem I’m still debating on how to title. Basically , I was in the car with someone and he said something that literally shut me up and had me flushed super red. Trust me when I say it was really kind of sexy and the car got very hot, but at the same time it was good. This is the metaphor that came out of it. Is it too ridiculous? I have another friend on the other hand, that said I have a gift. So basically Sampson is making me second guess myself. And now I’m back to being annoyed. But readers, what say you?
Want and need are two very different things here in this game being played out with nothing more than just a few words tossed onto the playing field. It's a glance, thrown back and forth; a tennis volley. I can see he's waiting for me to center my lady and take what he's offering; a parlay; what's mine for the asking, as he drives nearly every thought out of my head; watching, reveling in every glance tossed my way, filling the spaces in between with tension so thick it would take more than just a simple move, it's no mere pawn stepping into arrows flying back and forth in the small places between the attack.
So maybe I’m just trying to figure out my voice. I don’t think second guessing myself is a bad thing. How do we become strong writers if we don’t take criticism with grace? Compliments are all well and good, but we need criticism as well to survive. The bitter with the sweet. (bitter of course is the criticism) We can’t spend our whole lives eating sugar, we need some bitters to digest it all.
That being said, Sampson has irked me. And all metaphor aside, I could lovingly stab him with my knife. (pardon the kitchen gallows humor)