MY POETRY is whatever I think I am

I want to agree with Amiri Baraka, hug him and kiss him and say YES! That’s EXACTLY WHAT POETRY IS. And then I want to talk to him about how dumb people who think poetry should be anything else are. I want to say I am right, this is the way. My heart does little pauses whenever I think about doing this though. Not out of excitement but out of the vague guilt that says, “You’re wrong Carolina. Poetry is so much more than just you.”

Whatever I think I am is relative to everyone else. I am everyone I have ever met and all the thoughts that have been shared with me. In that way, it can’t really be my poetry, as I am only recycling thoughts and ideas. I feel so defensive of my poetry though, as you all witnessed in class when I told Meghan I didn’t care (I’m sorry!). Why is that? I feel like it’s me there on the page, trying to show you my insides. And then when people don’t understand it I just want to say, well, so what? You don’t HAVE TO understand. I’m misunderstood, that’s the point, duh.

But, it’s not something to which we should say so what, even if we want to (my mistake). It does matter. Poetry is one of the only methods that two people can truly understand each other and if we are thinking only of who we are and not about who everyone else is, then how will we achieve the goals we wish to? How will we master this art. I guess we should find a balance. Sacrifice some of the qualities we feel are exclusive to ourselves so that we can successfully speak to somebody else in their language.



2 Replies to “MY POETRY is whatever I think I am”

  1. Beautiful post, Carolina (and truly, honestly, I was not at all offended!).

    I know just how you feel, feeling defensive about your poetry. That’s how I get when people tell me that my words make them dislike the poetry; I want to say ‘so what?’ And to some degree, as I talk with Dr. Smith, we are correct. Our poetry doesn’t NEED to speak to or with everyone. By using form, content, or language that doesn’t appeal to everyone we are simply reducing our audience, not writing bad poetry. We are choosing to speak only with those who wish to engage with us in that fashion, by limiting the accessibility of our poetry.

    Of course the fundamental problem is understanding when things could be done better – not because we’re limiting our audience but because we’re causing our poem to express itself truly and effectively. For me, this could be using the word ‘Tintinnabulation’, which the poem itself rejected based on sound. It is important to understand where we have caused the poem to falter, and be untrue to itself.

    And sometimes there is more than one truth, isn’t there? There is the truth of a poem, frantic in its capitalization, and a poem frantic in its speed. The workshops are meant to discuss the truths we saw, but I think that you should give over to the poem itself, to show you the ultimate truth. Keep in mind that YOUR truth is not necessarily the truth of the poem; the poem has a separate truth and identity from you. So I would recommend not putting your desires for the poem over what the poem itself wants to be. Let the poem breathe, free from you, and see where the truth takes you.

  2. Carolina,

    You and Meghan have thrown out some really amazing thoughts to ruminate on, but I’d like to respond to just one thing that really resonated with me: the idea that “poetry is one of the only methods that two people can truly understand each other.”
    My initial reaction is YES. At least in my own poetry, that is the goal– to relay human experience, to try to connect on a level that transcends oral communication. But as I think about this harder, I have to disagree (with myself, as well). So often I read poetry that I don’t understand. In fact, I’ve found myself understanding more about a stranger by simply observing their body language, the way they talk, etc. than reading their poetry. So I think maybe a better way (for me, at least) to express this sentiment would be to insert the word “attempt.” Poetry is one of the only ways that two people can try to understand each other. I think this also resonates with Meghan’s comments about the idea of attempting to be in conversation with a specific audience. I want to come back to this after I’ve had some more time to think about it, but thanks for the great thoughts!

    -Chloe Forsell

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.