The psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoaka works with visual illusions: objects appear to shift and move as the sole result of color changes. This trick of perception, here specifically a “peripheral drift illusion” is a visual example of what many poems do. Perception is our application of meaning on to what we sense through our eyes, ears, skin and tongue. In this perceptual illusion, this shift in color, using our natural inclination to use black lines to define shape, we latch onto the black, and then the change to lighter colors, pulls our vision forward, so that the circles appear to spin. In poetry, we are drawn forwards with our natural inclination to make meaning, and when a leap is made to unexpected imagery, there occurs a shape-shifting, mysterious voices, whirling and tilting. We are caught and pushed into perpetuating the illusion.
A beautiful example of this is here in Ana Bozicevic’s poem Buffet of Air. She grabs our vision in the first lines and turns it to the sky and stars, then falls away unexpectedly, to her broken tooth. Unbalanced, we are propelled forward as she shifts into Poldie the dog, wandering the streets, and we are with her, spying on humans she passes by. Search out her poems. Ana Bozlcevic’s poetry will make you spin.
Buffet of Air
I was fixing to sing a poem about
the multiverse so green, the stars
just fanning away from each other—
I couldn’t hack it. Chipped my tooth&
ran away. In the form of a Llhasa Apso
called Poldie, I wandered
the city streets, listening to what the people
were saying. I really wanted
to chime in. In time the impulse
faded. Maybe the new revolt is
not to reveal a damn thing.
From Poetry Society of America Website: http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/crossroads/red_white_blue_poets_on_politics/ana_bo_i_evi/