Response to How to Fall in Love with your Father

Firstly, I love the title. Initially taken back by the nearly incestual idea, I was intrigued to read this possibly risque poem. My shock was apparent when I viewed its length: but it was wonderful. The simplicity garnered by its mere three stanzas held more weight than a good deal of the longer poems we’ve read as a class thus far. The speaker detailed the distance between son and father without making it overly obvious or dwelling on their past relationship, and the fact that he focused on something as simple as lifting another person out of a chair was a great way to convey the intimacy needed in a task like that. I always feel like my own writing needs more validation and I often end up stumbling over what I’m trying to say. I want to try to mimic the simplistic weight this poem held.

2 Replies to “Response to How to Fall in Love with your Father”

  1. Hi Marley!
    I really enjoyed “How to Fall in Love with your Father” also. I think it was interesting how at the end of the poem the poem becomes self aware that it is, indeed, a poem. As we talked about in class, not many poets can accomplish this. While I think Ross Gay has done a great thing in the final stanza, I do not know if I’d be able to do the same thing in my poetry. I’m not so sure I want my poem(s) to be self-aware in that way.
    What do you guys think?
    Arianna

  2. Great points, Marley, and I love how you point out the importance of “validation” – you’re right that simplicity can be a way to achieve that, but of course simplicity is complex to achieve (like how we spend ages getting ready in such a way that it doesn’t look like we’ve spent ages). But try playing around with imperatives and (gentle) commands: “Let X,” for example. That can confer authority, which isn’t the same as validation, but might be a step on the way…

    And, as Arianna points out, the question of self-awareness is another challenge here. I’d argue that poems become more effective the more self-aware they get BUT that they don’t always need to admit to being self-aware, as Gay does here – that’s what Arianna reacts against, rightly if it isn’t right for her. (That said, Arianna, I throw down a gauntlet to you: write the poem in which your poems admit to either their desire for emotional connection, possibly in terms of love OR recognize a moment where they can’t achieve, on the page/in words, such connection, or both!). E.g Ted Hughes’s poems in the book Birthday Letters

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