by Aram Saroyan
Sometimes distilling a complex idea down to it’s simplest terms clarifies. But sometimes reducing a complex idea only intensifies the complexities. Aram Saroyan’s one word poem seems simple enough, except for the intentional misspelling. If you say the word “light” anyone who speaks English knows what you mean, or do they? Light could mean illumination, the thing that illuminates, ignition (light my cigarette), the opposite of heavy, the opposite of dark, and on it goes. But is any of this what Saroyan had in mind?
Saroyan once said, “The difference between “lighght” and a poem with more words is that it doesn’t have a reading process. Even a five-word poem has a beginning, middle, and end . A one-word poem doesn’t. You can see it all at once. It’s instant.” * Ian Daly in his essay for Poetry Foundation titled “You Call That Poetry?!” suggests that “Lighght” is something you see rather than read. “Look at it as a kind of photograph, and you’ll be closer.”
Daly’s essay is an interesting read, and I suggest that you do, but I use it to bring up an observation. Have you ever noticed that while looking at a photograph we can’t help but think about it in words, and that when reading, we likewise can’t help but picture it as images? And is it any wonder that the strongest images conjure up the strongest words, and the most powerful words elicit the most powerful images in our minds? This seems so obvious as to not warrant notice, but do you ever consider the words that might be used to describe your photographs? What words would you use? Do your images require sentences or paragraphs, or can you, like Saroyan, do it in one word?
* I highly encourage you to read Daly’s essay about Saroyan and the upset he caused all the way to the US Congress. One little word, and a made up one at that. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/179985
Pentax K5IIs with kit zoom, processed on my iPad Air with Snapseed.