Multi and single voice “hidden” messages by Ashby McGowan

I quite naturally use links between ideas and images in my poems. They can be totally subliminal or can be quite strong links that are left unsaid but permeate most of the images and concepts. I use these techniques quite a lot. I suppose this is similar to the way I use the sounds created by the interaction of different voices in my multi-voice poems e.g. a dissonance may support an unpleasant happening in the poem while a pleasant sound – resulting from the voices combining – can subliminally support a happening that is positive or happy.



In the second line of my poem Whalemeat, the colour “red” is used to describe the whale’s blood on the waves. Then later on I say in the poem: “The sun never lasts”. This carries on the idea of red (via an image of a setting sun) but I also intend the reader to subliminally see the Japanese flag (which depicts a red sun) never lasting. It is not a wish to end the Japanese flag or to end Japan but a hope that whales will one day never see that flag fluttering above them on the whaling ship as they die in agony.



My head drops back

Eyes penetrate the cloudless sky

A word falls out of my brain,

Just misses my mouth,

To splash on the empty page

Spreading as an ink stain

It moves through fields of cornflowers.

Swallows race across the sky,

Open mouthed

Feeding on one colour only.

A group of Scots Pine are deeper tinted in the haze of distance.

And beyond that, far beyond, the sea.

When the dark comes,

Vega rises in the cold

Eastern sky.




In some of my poems I have messages which the reader or listener is intended to get only subliminally. Most people while listening to poems try to “feel” what is going on in a poem. They use their instincts to tune in to the hidden message.  As well as messages that are “hidden” in the normal poetic manner (e.g. using metaphors) I also deliberately lay a trail sometimes. This trail is not meant to be discovered but the listener should “feel” a connection between for example different verses. For instance, my poem, While writing a Poem has a thread that links the verses. If someone were to work at it they would easily discover it (please try). However, I like it when there is only this subliminal message. This is not a gimmick and I feel it does work. I think people feel a link that is not mentioned-between the verses. There are different uses of this technique in different poems of mine.  Many of these messages are visual. These subliminal messages are not usually the main “theme” of the poem but are intended as a useful adjunct to the other techniques used in the poem.

I should add that there is nothing naughty about these messages. I am not e.g. trying to get the listener to like chocolate by having “hidden” or “ghost” images for chocolate in the poem (or prose piece). Such a


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s