Monday, September 6, 2010

Poetry can be a lonely art - rebuttal

I have read recently on Robert Peake's blog that poetry can be a lonely art. Being a poet, I am prompted to think about this statement. I find nothing true about it. If for no one else but the self, poetry is a form of discussion. A puzzle one figures out as the lines assemble into some kind of form and the words zero in collectively upon some greater meaning or question. All the while there is no loneliness in the rendering of this art. There is you, your ideal and real self, your ideal and real world, and all the other thoughts and images and sounds and smells that arise during the process.

And this point I make is not counting general audience, specific audience, friend's online, in forums, in workshops or all the many external stimuli a poet can give himself as reminder that his poetry is a conversation.

Sitting still in a bare white room, you are never alone. Talking to oneself, when you think about it, is not an act of loneliness. We are the assembly of many minds. At any point, we may speak freely with these minds. Out loud or in thoughts. The writing of a poem is much like a performance before this assembly. Long before the poem makes its way to the general audience, it must necessarily undergo discourse with and then surpass the scrutiny of the mind's assembled voices. An old friend, an ex-lover, a favorite professor, a father or mother, some stranger seen earlier upon the train. They all stand in line, some cut ahead, to take part in the rendering. The most important of these voices is the collective all, the one the poet has cultivated over time to be his or her voice, the one that unfolds in the poem.

The poet and the poet's voice are not always the same thing. Only in phases are they one. Most of the time, the poet must find and then refind his voice, over and over. And this perhaps is the single greatest reason I find Robert Peake's statement to be untrue---one of the greatest benefits of writing poetry is this discussion with the self, this cajoling of the mind's true voice to the surface. This is not loneliness, this is moment in which you find your truest friend or "ally" (for those who are tormented their poetic voice) resides within.

To be fair to Mr. Peake, I'm pretty sure I pulled the line in question out of context. Though, as I look at it, the line is stirring a recipe of its own perhaps in spite of the context. Read his blog and decide for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, fellow Robert. It is an interesting idea to take refuge in the "company" one keeps through the writing process. I suppose, in context, I was pointing out that other forms of writing are often more likely to draw out an external response. Still, when I consider the lineage of poets who have gone before us, often toiling in obscurity, I say we are in "good company" for sure.


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