8:12 a.m. — Atlanta
Hello, all. Listening to Harry Chapin and thinking about an early second cup of coffee. Below is what I wrote on Tuesday, planning to start with it and then give you a prompt. You know the length of the prompt. Can you imagine if this were tacked on?! Mmmm, Neil Diamond…
I have been delighted by the poems that have appeared in response to the collection of statements on self. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, be sure to visit. We have quite a diversity, all of them making thought-provoking points, including the seemingly ‘lighter’ ones.
8:11 a.m. — Atlanta –Tuesday, 22 May
Hi, everyone. Have you ever had a serendipitous moment that is creepy because of its serendipitousness? I had one yesterday while zooming around the poetrysphere.
Last Saturday, I wrote the draft of what you will read below [if I don’t for something like this, I take hours to compose on the day]. Yesterday [that’s Monday], through following links, I arrived at Khara House’s blog, Our Lost Jungle, where, to my astonishment, she is discussing the same thing [visit the post before, as well], in an exquisitely articulate post. I tend to inarticulateness. While I would love to have you continue reading my discourse, I am not going to deprive you of Khara’s. Read hers and come back, or read mine and visit hers.
As an actor creates a persona to speak words, share an experience, convey an attitude, or point of view, so a poet creates a speaker. The speaker acts as a buffer between poets and their audiences. Unless a writer says, ‘This is completely autobiographical’ [and even then, given memory…], we, as readers, can never be sure what the writer tweaked to make the poem work.
My mentor tells the story of an acquaintance approaching him to offer condolences for the death of his father. As he was alive and well, Jack was a little startled. It turned out that the man had read a poem of Jack’s, written in first person, about his father. Everything in the poem was true, except one little thing: for the poem to work well, his father had to die. We cannot assume that any poem is about the poet, especially first person poems.
Many of you might say, ‘But, all my poems are about myself and I don’t pretend otherwise’. That nudges us into the territory of whom we are writing for: audience. That’s a whole ‘nother discourse.
The speaker allows us a measure of freedom. Through a speaker, we can offer points of view that may not be ours, but about which we wish to write, because we feel the topic is important; or, we can show something better by presenting it from another viewpoint; or, we want to play devil’s advocate. The more we are able to present other points of view, the more flexible we become as writers.
The creation of a speaker with her own tone of voice and persona, is easier and clearer, if we are confident in our own definition of self, if we have a strong sense of where we came from and where we are, as a person. A strong sense of self acts much in the way a strong sense of place does, giving us a base, a platform, from which to speak.
At my first rehearsal as a community actor, the cast was told to create a history for their parts. I had to decide what family my part had, her education level, her religion, her hobbies, her fears, her tastes… the more I knew, the more truthfully I could portray her. It’s the same with our writing. The more we know ourselves, the stronger and clearer our poetic voice.
I may, while we investigate prompts to do with self, seem either insufferably nosy, or irritatingly pushy, because this is a personal focus. Therefore, I have caveats, disclaimers, and buts.
First, the why, is outlined above.
Second, the what. No matter what I ask in a self prompt, the choice is yours irrevocably [as it is with any prompt]. You may decide you have no problem with any of the prompts, or with writing about what I ask and sharing it.
You may decide to work at the prompts, but not share the results. Understandable. I have dark corners I would prefer stay dark, even to myself, although I have begun to let in some light. The corners will go back to darkness, but I’m a little more accepting of their contents, with my more adult [alright, aging] perspective. My voice has become stronger in my writing; I can hear it. I also investigate paths I might not have before.
You may decide you want to share with this group, but not the wider readership of your own blog. You can post the poem in comments, as others have before.
You might take a sliver of truth and make the rest up and have your own caveat when you post: “This is not me, but I liked the prompt, so I created a persona” or “I based this on something in my life, but changed a number of things”.
You may completely skip a prompt, or adapt it to suit you and what you want to do.
Third, why now? We have a pretty solid group, at this point. I think we know each other well enough to know how much we can, or want, to share, how safe we feel. That’s important.
Oh yes. I did reread and tweak this. After all, two days have gone by since I typed it. You have written poems and commented. Of course, comment and discuss. We do that well here, don’t we!
I shall see you tomorrow for the roundup; Tuesday for an image prompt — I have been collecting; and next Thursday for any announcements you may have, or a discourse on a topic you want to put before the group. You can leave announcements and topics in comments, or email them to me. If your announcement is time-sensitive, be sure to tell me. Ah… Jimmy Buffett. I do love music clouds.
Happy writing, everyone.