Thursday, April 21, 2011

The poetry of who and what we are and do

It's natural that we read other poets to inspire us with the writing of our own poems. And healthy too! We should be aware of what's going on in the world of contemporary poetry around us. And I know that when I'm reading poetry, I write more poetry. I also know that if I read more prose, I find it more difficult to write poetry. Perhaps the patterns and rhythms of what I'm reading are absorbed by my unconscious and, when I sit down to write, the echoes of what I've read most recently are the first to emerge.

How about you? Do you write what you read, influenced by the patterns, and perhaps themes, on the page? Or are you able to write in whatever form you choose, regardless of what you're reading?

And have you identified what kind of poetry you write?

When someone asked me that for the first time, in the early 1990s, it took me by surprise. I hadn't long been writing and hadn't developed any measure of objectivity towards my own work. But to know what we're doing, to be aware of what matters to us and how we want to affect an audience, can only help us as writers.

I've always wanted poems I read to make me think and feel, so I've tried to achieve that in my own writing. And feel a responsibility to 'entertain' an audience. But I don't mean that in the sense of superficial laughter and enjoyable trivia. I mean it in the sense of the original meaning of the word, which comes from 'inter' (to be among) and 'tenere' (to hold). Isn't that an amazing thing for us to try and achieve? To be among our audience, to be part of them, and to hold their attention.

Feel free to respond to any of the above questions and points, and extend the discussion too, in the Comments box, in prose or even poetry.

Write well.