Contradicting Myself

Something that workshop does is help me to isolate what exactly turns me on or off in a poem. **HOWEVER, I often find a very annoying and peculiar phenomena occurring during class. It is difficult for me to isolate exactly how I feel about certain aspects of a poem. It doesn’t mean that I’m wavering around not knowing how I feel, it means I convince myself I feel one way and then I am able to convince myself I feel the exact opposite. This can get rather frustrating. One second I am so sure that I don’t like the placement of the punctuation in the poem and then the next second I find that there may be merit to that exact aspect. I’m constantly changing my mind about how I feel about almost everything in a poem that we receive for workshop. I think this may have a lot to do with the setting. For instance, if I stumble on a poem in the Poetry Foundation app, I think I might be less likely to be as critical of it. I am told that this poem is supposed to be at least “good” or “worthwhile”, so I am already perceiving it in that mindset. It’s difficult for me to be less judgmental and picky with a poem if I know it was written by one of my peers. I think this is a good thing in the context of workshop, because that’s what workshop is for…however, I don’t think it’s good for me to be more or less critical of something because of knowing who wrote it. I think it’s ideal to try to read a poem as is, blind to knowledge of the writer.

This also doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things that are 100% clear to me. There are always aspects that I can really be sure I love and things I just hate. These are often the strongest and weakest parts of the poem. I find that these gut, deep-seated feelings, are the ones that are most valuable and important for the writer. They also help me out the most. Deciding how I feel about other people’s poems helps me to identify what I am trying to achieve with my own poetry.

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