Poetry as Fiction?

What I found the most interesting about Martha Rhodes visiting Geneseo, was her emphasis on the fact that she didn’t really know where her characters, or her subjects for her poems were coming from. She said something along the lines of “I was shocked by the words coming out on the page” and “I didn’t know the characters, or why they were being created until after I dug deep and figured out the correlation between my life, and the characters personally.” (This is obviously paraphrased, i don’t remember word for word, unfortunately).

I have never really thought like that? I’ve always had a person, or a particular scene in my mind whenever I start writing my poems. Even if the scenes, or the conversations are somewhat made up, I continue to delve into my own personal memory for subject matter. I think this stems from my background in CNF, which sometimes makes me feel like I have very little imagination. Like, I can only retrieve content from my own personal memories and events, and not from the more creative or story telling parts of my brain.

This might just be me being lazy, and if that’s the case, I really need to up my game. I’d like to start treating poetry as somewhat a genre of fiction for myself in the next few weeks; see what I can come up with that doesn’t have to do with a memory I had in high school, or something my mom said to me when I was growing up (although, that does stimulate some really interesting imagery for a poem as I’m typing this…) I want to create new scenes, introduce new characters, and discover a whole new world of poetry that I’ve never indulged in before. Maybe it’ll take me somewhere, maybe it won’t…

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have a creative way of getting outside of your own memory and finding something new? If so, Pllleeaaassseee share, I’m already at a loss and I haven’t even started yet!

One Reply to “Poetry as Fiction?”

  1. I think fiction and memory can coincide quite effectively.

    Often, I start writing about a particular moment in my life, and it turns into these half-fabricated and half-truth poems that do a better job conveying what I was trying to convey than solely scripting out the memory verbatim. Your personal moments can become your own fiction if you let the poem take course — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true anymore, because the moving force behind it still is; the raw emotion is foundational despite the “fiction” label.

    I think you SHOULD start with a memory from high school, or something your mom said to you. Let the fantastical and the natural failures of the human memory (how things happened vs. how we think they should’ve happened) seep into the structure of your memories. I think you’ll be surprised by what you end up with!

    Hope this helps 🙂

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