Tuesday, August 15, 2006

poetry group

I've been part of a bi-weekly poetry reading group where we send a poem and get some critique on it. I've sent them the gambit from image filled narrative that's fairly direct and easy to follow to completely doing away with any regular poetry structure like writing a poem as a suduko puzzle to in between, something that seems approachable but ends up for most people overwhelming. It's kind of like that thing on the David Letterman show, "Will it float?" where they take some sort of object and dump it into a tank of water to see if it'll float.

Depending on who's assigned to send me critique, I'll vary what I send. Some people would like the more narrative pieces where they feel they "know" what the author means. It really bothers some people when a "poem doesn't make sense" or that it makes them uncomfortable or causes them to feel lost. I've only met 3 people in the group in person. Some times I deliberately send stuff that will make people uncomfortable, then change it the next week to something more generally palatable. Some times I'm surprised by what resonates with people.

I don't think all poetry should be so "comfy," but I also don't necessarily want all my poetry to be so antagonistic. And sometimes I want to do both, doing both in a poem is quite difficult, to lull a reader then turn it so their head spins. It's a dance. Nice part about the reading group is that you get to see people's reactions right away, which allows me to understand how the next poem can be. I must admit it's a bit of a rush watching people's reactions knowing I wanted them to react that way.

I often do this in poetry readings, bring a range of poems and pick which ones to read depending on who is out there. Open with a poem that let's people in, throw in something more perplexing in the middle, and depending on how they react to those, end with something that takes them along for the ride. The more and more I write, the less I really want it to be about me per se. OK, that's a bit ironic. How can my writing not be about me? I really don't know and I'm not really sure how that's going to work, but it's where I want to go. All I know is that I'm tired of "me", I'd rather deal with the other.

The poem is not me, the poem is the poem. It is what it is. It is what it is to the reader. I don't want people to know what I mean, but I do want people to think they know what I mean.

OK let me stop before I get into redundant philosophical loops amidst my sleepiness.

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