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Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Raging Poet's Guide to Ambiguity

I have no adult supervision tonight. So I'm kicking back in my loft having a glass of red wine listening to The Cure Unplugged. The whir of a box fan provides some white noise behind my favorite tunes. Life is good at the moment except my six-year-old son keeps getting out of bed, disrupting my mellow mood. But the warning of an electronics ban seems to have quelled his sleep-delaying tactics.

It's the kind of night that's perfect for writing poetry, but I'm a better raging poet than a mellow poet, so I'll save the poetry for another night. Though you'll never see it because poetry has a way of revealing too much. And those of you who know me know I'd rather streak naked across the field at the Super Bowl than bare my soul.

Poetry is raw and honest, and I can't seem to hide myself in it like I can my fiction. The poet Stellasue Lee says poetry can also be fiction. So it doesn't always have to be a purging of one's soul. You could write some fictional poetry and some true poetry and share both. Then people would always wonder is that snail trapped in the jar her, or is it just . . . a snail trapped in a jar. I think I did actually post that one a while back (here). Now you're wondering aren't you?

Do you think Stellasue could be pulling our leg (by the way, clich├ęs are forgiven a writer when they are accompanied by a glass . . . or two of wine - I'm pretty sure I read that in The Chicago Manual of Style)? Maybe all of Stellasue's poems are her - Stellasue slicing her chest open, ripping her heart out, and holding its beating and blood-dripping form out for all to explore. It could be fiction lingers in our heads providing enough ambiguity for Stellasue to be able to pop her heart right back in and go about her life. No harm done.

We'll never know will we? But it sure makes it a lot easier for a raging poet like me to realize maybe I can hide myself in my poetry after all.

Writer friends: How about you? Would you rather streak naked at the Super Bowl or truly bare your soul for all to see? Do you hide yourself in your writing (poetry or fiction)?


  1. Shauna Renee' said...

    Is neither a choice? I have a hard time writing fiction because I like facts. Love reading fiction, love reading everyone else's stories, but it's just difficult for me to come up with something that isn't directly related to my experiences. I'm definitely not a poet, either.
    I think another reason I struggle with fiction is because my mother always read too much into what I wrote as a kid. If she overheard my "plays" I'd do with my friends outside, or read something and took it personally, she'd go off on me. So I learned to channel my writing in other ways; term papers, research projects, scrapbooking. When I was in the Apprentice Course, I thought I would reconnect with my creativity; but my heart went out of it when I found out Mom was going through her old scrapbooks from years ago, letters, anything that might have something I'd find later and use for stories--AND THROWING IT AWAY because heaven forbid I tell any family secrets. (I doubt there's anything that truly that shocking to me after 30 years of nursing, but it was anathema to her for anyone to discuss it.)
    So now I'm trying to regroup and figure out what I'm really supposed to be doing. Along with continuing with the rest of my duties as wife and mother, which is pretty time-consuming. I just don't have 200% to give anymore.
    I continue to follow your blog when I get a few minutes and admire you for continuing your writing journey. I think you have a lot of talent and I will definitely be keeping an eye out on the bookshelves for you in the future!

  2. Karen said...

    Thanks for your kind comments, Shauna. I'm glad you enjoy reading. I'm so sorry to hear that the busyness and circumstances of life are keeping you away from your writing. That sure can be frustrating. Now I look back and think about how much easier this would have been if I'd taken what I thought was just a petty hobby twenty-five years ago and chose that as my college focus.

    I hope I am on those bookshelves in the future. I'm sure working on it. My confidence level is a whole 'nother issue. I wonder if ANY writer ever feels like they are good enough for that next step in their writing journey.

  3. Cece Dockins said...

    Bare the soul while looking everyone directly in the eye. No censor. No political correctness. No fear. Spit at their feet if you must and bury it in fiction.

  4. Stephanie Faris said...

    I wrote a lot of poetry in high school. I still have the sketchbook I wrote the poems in. I think they started in 1984 or 1985? They're SOOOOO bad! But it was a great outlet. I think they were imitations of the style I'd seen in Seventeen magazine, but I didn't really even know what real problems were! Most of them centered around heartbreak and "love," as if I knew what that was back then!

  5. Shauna Renee' said...

    I find your titles of your works in progress interesting! Sounds like some great reads brewing!