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« Oysters, Pure and Simple (by Damon McLaughlin) | Main | This just in from Lisa Vihos. . . »

September 20, 2011


"The self’s role is more an issue of process and craft than of subject matter—or should be." Yup. The personal is there to access the universal. Or, as I have told more than one creative writing class, if you are writing just to show how much you suffer, guess what? I can always find someone who has suffered more than you. Just being emo don't no poetry make.

Physical beings that we are, we must use the Self as the prism to refract what it means to be human. But if that's as far as you are willing to go, why not save your readers time and just stand screaming on a street corner?

Interesting post! Thanks for this. I wonder if "not knowing how the self figures into the poem," rather than being detrimental, can be an integral part of how a poet 'solos,' or plays (in all meanings of that word). Not sure we can ever fully answer how the self figures in, so maybe animating the question through the process of writing is what's key... The poems I love best do this, I think.

Couldn't agree more. I don't think poets need be particularly emo, and I don't think poets particularly want to read emo--at least I don't.

Sure, I don't see why not. Really, the self is beside the point, so "not knowing" probably isn't that big of a concern... although I personally find it handy to discover where "I" stand in a piece so I can push my self to the side and get down to the real business of poem making. That's usually when I make my best revisions -- when I have no attachments to the writing, as though the self/original-maker of the poem is no longer present.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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