Lately, I’ve been playing around with creating a poem that reads two ways. All poems, of course, can be understood in multiple ways, but I wanted one with words that could actually be read in two different orders–and make just as much sense in each. Early on, I came up with the idea of arranging the words of the poem in a grid, so that they could be read either across rows or down columns. The trick was to find a matrix of words that would not only be intelligible in either direction but actually meaningful and emotionally evocative. It’s not as easy as it may sound, even for a grid that contains only six words total. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, and the process made me think quite a bit about grammar. I spent a while thinking up words that can serve as multiple parts of speech, or as conjugations for multiple subjects. (This poetic form could be much more difficult in languages that don’t have as much grammatical crossover.)
So far, the results are not brilliant, but I thought I’d share with you the best matrix poem I’ve yet constucted. Maybe it will spur your own creativity. If you do write any of your own, please share.
Matrix Poem #1