Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being Honest

Hopefully not another blind alley, since I've lost myself in a few of those recently, but I'm writing poetry again after a short break (not dried up but forcing myself to concentrate on prose this summer, since, as David Morley advised me a few months back, we all have to eat and prose tends to pay where poetry doesn't).

I didn't want to write any poetry again until the autumn, but my poetry had other ideas ...

The most important thing for me at the moment, in terms of writing poems, is to be honest and not get sucked into making empty gestures, by which I mean the 'telling' last line which explains the poem, or the genre piece which points to nothing beyond itself, and other crimes against poetry.

The danger is that in not wishing to be too damned honest - i.e. gushing or becoming too realistic/mundane for poetry to bear it, so that it breaks apart into prose - I may err on the side of being too laconical or obscure.

Artifice or artistic integrity. Dirty great hints to the reader or embarrassed dumbshow. Where are the dividing lines? What are the differences?


Paul Squires said...

Those are the difficult decisions, indeed. Every writer's voice is an artificial construct so I don't worry at all artifice or honesty. The end result is collaboration between poet and reader anyway. The problem of blatancy and obscurity tends to revolve around whether the poem has anything original and interesting to say, I think, or whether it is just an attempt to demonstrate the cleverness of the poet. Always fascinating subjects though.

Bo said...

Tough ones. No idea, personally!!!

Btw am in Kent from 7-21 september if you're still planning on being down there. And many congrats on the exam!!

Jane Holland said...

I sometimes long for what Yeats called 'automatic writing' whilst being aware that such things tend to result in abysmal verse. But the desire to write without too much self-awareness is strong in me at the moment, perhaps because the current trend is toward self-awareness and the 'knowing' poet. Some poetry like that is becoming a parody of itself.

Oh Bo, sadly we had to trek down to Kent last week, so we've already been and gone. Though I never even made it into Canterbury anyway, so hard to see when we could have met up. Loads of family to visit in and around Folkestone, castles and Roman sites to explore, and the weather was so gorgeous, I'm afraid we kind of lounged on the beach in a useless fashion for at least two of our five afternoons.

And I still have your vast tome on Spenser! Guilt, guilt.

I'm still hoping to visit you one weekend during term-time though, if that's not too terrible a thought.

Steven Waling said...

I don't know about anyone else, but the older I get the less interested I get in the artiface/honesty divide. Ron Padgett once put it succinctly when he said he wanted to be a fraud all his life...

I don't want to write "authentically" anymore than I want to write according to the clever self-aware rules. I want to just write what comes. I tend to find my poems these days, rather than make them.

Bo said...

Oh do, do!!!!
That wd be wonderful. Worry not about the Spenser, no rush.