A Poem For Your Thoughts

Vladimir Burda: Ich (translated by J.W. Curry)

Davis Creach, Arts Editor

Welcome back to the only place on The Uproar to satisfy your poetry needs for the week, A Poem For Your Thoughts! This one is an analytical beast, dear readers, so make haste and read on! For those who are new to the column, here’s what you need to know. Each edition will include two poems, the first being a featured piece written by a famous poet that will be analyzed and interpreted according to my point of view. Of course, everyone’s interpretation is different and valid, and the comment section will be open for any further discussion. The second piece is written by yours truly and will be open to complete interpretation and analysis. Go forth, enjoy, and as you read, remember: “It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Poem One: Ich translated by J.W. Curry

Thoughts: I know what you’re thinking: How is this poetry and what on earth does it mean!? Allow me to explain: this is a different kind of poetry. Visual poetry, to be precise. But it also falls into the small basket of poetry that constantly aims to be the shortest, while potentially delivering gigantic realizations and truths about life and the human experience. For example, the official shortest poem ever written is a couplet by Strickland Gillilan. It is titled Lines of the Antiquity of Microbes and it simply reads “Adam / Had’em”. Another example was recited by the great Muhammad Ali in a speech he delivered at Harvard, saying “me / we”. These short poems are so simplistic that they seem utterly meaningless, but after a second read, we can grasp the truth and profound realism they display. However, poets have not stopped pushing the boundaries of profound short poems, even going as far as to change spellings of words or play with symbols and images around words to reveal something. For instance, Aram Saroyan wrote a poem that read “lighght”, adding an extra “gh” into the word “light” to add an entirely new meaning to the word. Perhaps a fluffier version of light? A longer period of illumination? A bright future that extends into generations to come? The possibilities and meanings are endless!

So, back to our featured poem. The poem you see above is a translation of the poem Ich by Vladimir Burda. The translator, J.W. Curry, changed the entire meaning of the pronoun “I” by merely changing a dot; Curry imprinted his very own thumbprint in place of the blot of ink above the standing column of the letter. With one small gesture, J.W. Curry turns the universal pronoun for the self and personalizes it to an extent that this particular “I” can only apply to him. So what could that possibly mean? For starters, Curry is making a statement that will forever cement his existence and relevance in the history of the world and the human experience as a whole. Some poetry might lose its author or its title from generation to generation, but this poem will always remain part of Curry’s legacy as an artist; his unique fingerprint is literally in the piece! This piece could shed light on the fact that we are all unique individuals who are united under the same description “I”. However, it is up to us to define what “I” means to us and what it means to the eyes and ears to the rest of the world. It could be an ode to the very existence of mankind, the existence of every human being in the face of the history and the fact that we are all given the opportunity to live life the way we choose. It could also challenge the very idea of labels and titles, rendering them useless and completely meaningless without the human spirit to give these titles meaning. As I mentioned before, the possibilities are endless and this could mean whatever you want it to mean. The beauty of visual poetry and short poems is that we can always come back to them, analyze over and over and always find something different in the form of a small piece of art. Whether it be one word or a singular letter, the questions and answer of the entire universe can be held in these simple poems. Maybe that is the true meaning of the poem: the universe is a vast expansion of questions, experiences, thoughts, and theories. Even so, the meaning of life and each individual’s place in the rotating platform of the human experience can be found in the simplest of forms. For, after all, life itself can be simple and bountiful with joy if we only choose to seek its simplicity.

Poem Two: Eden by D.C.

God above. God below.

Forbidden fruit.

Which one fell?


I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition! Any other thoughts on a small but extremely dense poem? Would you like to see more of this kind? Are there any other poets you would like to read and analyze? Answer any of these questions, and ask some of you’re own, in the comment section below! Tune in next week, and every week, for more interesting poetry!