Szirtes and The Community of Form

When I write poems, form is not at the forefront of my process. The form of my poems is generated by intuition, almost as a side effect. My poetry feels deeply personal and isolated, giving me a sense of ownership that is probably exaggerated. M y poems have no allegiance to common form, though they use the same words, and echo ideas expressed in other poems Szirtes might call this practice, “anarchist,” but it there is something less defiant that marks it: my poems feel alone. For this reason, I was struck by Szirtes’s reference to the community as an attraction of form.

Language is an attempt to distill words from the “mass of inchoate impressions, desires, and anxieties,” that Szirtes identifies as defining the human experience. The common use of form seems to be a rallying point for poets writing about different material, from different backgrounds, and with different intentions. Szirtes writes of all sonnets, “They are not alone in the world.” Often, my poetry does feel lonely, specific to me and hopefully accessible to some ungrounded other. After reading Szirtes I felt some pity for my own poems, wallflowers as the formal poems move through their networked world. Just as those who have mastered a language are able to communicate their complex, specific thoughts to others who know that language well, form provides an opportunity for deeper understanding. Those poems that are written in the same form owe some portion of their creation to consideration for that specific form. This provides them common ground with others in their form. Szirtes gives me reason me to let my poems join the conversation.

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