Skip to main content

My Pore Non-Blogging Persona Has Something Impotent Ta Say

Hi. nice to see you.

This is an issue near and dear to me, like a deer I shot.

But I've never shot a deer.

And this is why you should never trust a poet, or rather, you should not believe a poem's content is coterminous with the poet's life experience.

I am not writing an autobiography in my poems.

If I could even decide what I was trying to do with/in a poem, I would be happy. I try not to think while I'm writing or afterward. Or at all, except maybe when revising.

More articulate poets--Lynn Melnick/Cate Marvin/Amy King--than I have discussed this. See here and here and here.

Some excerpts out of context, but piquing nonetheless:

After a poetry reading I gave a couple of months ago, a stranger came up to a male poet I read with and asked him how he landed upon his chosen form for the lyric, “I”-based poems in his book. The same stranger then turned to me and asked, ostensibly in earnest, if I was “okay now.” My poems had him “worried.” I will generously assume the worry was one of concern and not prurience. Apparently he mistook my poems as a cry for help rather than, say, you know, art.

To insist on imposing an author’s lived life onto his or her work is an act of anti-reading, a demonstrated refusal to authentically engage with the thing itself that’s been built out of language.
Furthermore, such an approach diminishes the intellectual pleasures that are so fully available to the perceptive reader. My advice: don’t try to find the author’s life in a piece; rather, look for your own.
Many bad readers are bad writers. They have yet to form a sense of what they need to provide to their own readers. In short, they are poor listeners. Incapable of understanding what it means to be an audience, they serve no audience.

FOR THE SAKE of contention, and because my "I" is garnering a reputation lately of refusal (I just made that up!), I want to come at this subject from the wrong end — the un-cool, un-PC end — of the stick. The division between the poem and the poet happens to be, for me, as real as the fourth wall. It doesn't exist, but we all agree to respect it for the most part, until somebody throws a rotten apple or answers the persona during her performance.
Likewise, I take dirty pleasure in knowing things about an author, whether a fiction writer or a poet, and sometimes I try to ferret out how those details might manifest or take hold in the author’s work. It's unfair to do, I know, but because I'm not terribly invested in my own history, I don't mind if others attempt the same connections with my own work, assuming they bother about my boring details at all. Fair is fair, and I'm no hypocrite.
Until I am.

Comments

  1. "I write about you all the time, I said aloud. / Every time I say 'I,' it refers to you." -Louise Glück, Visitors from Abroad

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Beneath the Chickenshit Mormon Sun by Bruce Embree

I've posted this before, on a depressing day probably just like this one. This poem makes me feel better. That's all I have to say on that. It turned out worse than I thought The champion defended his title then Eldridge Cleaver came on to talk about his reasons for becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Grandma and I damn near fell out of our chairs Went to town and got crazy drunk Came back home, called you long-distance after cruising and drooling Mainstreet again This is my last wish and love poem It is as follows Want to hold the wake at noon with plenty of acid and rum No friends and relatives Ghost music by Hendrix and the Byrds drowning all sound as you fuck me to dust beneath the chickenshit Mormon sun. Links:  http://www.limberlostpress.com/authors/161embree1.html

Maureen O'Leary

Grief (for J’uan) Maybe we turn into clouds of reefer Particulates coating the lungs of the people thinking about us First and secondhand smoke Clinging to the frizzing gray locs of the women mourning us Or maybe we are in the splashes of Hennessey Swirling in the bottoms of Styrofoam cups A bad burn in the throats of our brothers Something to remember us by On the way back up. Maybe we are still here. In the way the candles keep going out In the way they call out to God. If they only looked up they could see our eyes Shining through the branches and glittering through the haze Below the stars. Maureen O'Leary lives in Sacramento, California. Her work appears in Coffin Bell Journal, Bandit Fiction, The Horror Zine, Ariadne Magazine, and Sycamore Review. She is a graduate of Ashland MFA.