Martianism, or The Movement, as it became known, was a group of writers in the 1970s and 80s that sought to revitalize British poetry by taking the perspective akin to an alien. By utilizing the viewpoint of a “Martian,” ordinary literary devices such as clichés and common metaphors become taboo, as how would a Martian know things such as the phrase “birds of a feather flock together” means “those people are similar”? Or that the sky can be comparable to the shade of a robin’s egg? By cutting all the easily relatable terminology out, it was hoped that a new style of writing would emerge that exercised the imagination in vastly different ways. An example, and arguably the quintessence of the movement, is Craig Raine’s “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home,” which showcases unusual word choices and conceits to describe every-day objects, such as stating rain is “when the earth is television.”
Another example, written by yours truly, is printed below. While my piece is not poetry, it is written in the spirit of Martianism – I wonder if you can guess what common thing the narrator is describing without looking at the answer printed after the piece.
In places cracked open, bare to the sky, where light reaches nearly every crook and cranny and dazzles in small circles of brick, concrete, and smoldering metal, the air itself hurts the endothermic layer.
Mostly this place, probably in fear of the terrible openness around, is covered (smothered) in a carpet that grows like this planet’s moon’s face. Waxing from green to tipped in this solar system’s star color, only to wane violently (the natives cut it down – mayhap clutter, like emptiness, is also feared) to bits and pieces of dark.
Then the sheared covering is used (if you can call it that) apparently to scrub the natives’ insides, or as a covering material (the natives are weak and pink, as I stated in report 12-Alpha), or for fuel. The first use is most interesting as it looks to be habitual, learned from elders to young, and only uses the star-colored bits that smash to pieces when sawed off their core. The bits are then ingested as-is or heat licked then taken, sometimes mixed with other “raw” (a native word!) or heat licked items, only to pass through after seemingly providing no nutritional value regardless of preparation.
The answer: corn.
by Janie Cashdollar