Michael Farrell – pink milk

Michael Farrell

pink milk

before shampoo & their ilk–see links
—we were used
to colour being outside the poem. (reading was usually
a monochromatic experience.) we could be careless
in our use of words like red, blue & lemon. our
readers may or may not have flashes in their minds
when they read such words; the words have a
pleasing effect anyway. we like to write them. it feels
slightly transgressive. we dont believe were painting
pictures but were not being too severe either. &
sometimes—often—we write in coloured ink anyway—
so colour should get in somehow. we dont care too
much about mood association when it comes to blue;
green & orange moods are different, & strangely
unpolitical. is the shift from black & white to colour
poetry as big as that of black & white tv & film to
colour? do similar disruptions of reality & fantasy
occur? only readers can answer that, & we are readers.
must the page allude to former perfection for us to
construct our poetic experience? must the separation
between text & page be extreme (tonewise)? what
happens when the poem we typed up & emailed off
appears in new flesh, all brown & pink? colour has lost
its abstraction. the mysterious colour that went by the
name of the colour of, even of tourmaline, is now
suggested or contradicted by a wash, a screen, a
raspberry milk fountain of light¹ . our hardwon words
are fruity. how can we be ‘serious young insects’? our
words barely resemble ants in the sand! but these are
early days. as yet there are no colourdetermined
poetics. its another leaf in the hand of editors &
designers though. new decisions … new controls … a
new palette with which to balance the disorder that
pretends to be this new issue, number 17, for example.
some editors prefer the classic white screen, black
text. some readers too. these words were originally
blue on white (the word blue blue, the word white
blue.) words are defined by their backgrounds. neil
young writes lyrics on newspaper. have any of us
requested colours before? rejected proofs on that
basis? weve written on coloured paper & taken it for
granted. are new theories unwarranted? think of the
pleasure (or slight disorientation) we feel when we
see our freshly coloured poems. is it a new writerly
feeling? if we forego those of ‘nice paper’ when we
can get it, of this seasons fashion & milks, who (the
rhetorical who) (not roland barthes or carrie bradshaw
surely) would deny us this? for we dress & drink in

¹my poem, voulez vous, shampoo 16

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