How I got here

To be honest I never found myself attracted to the idea of writing poetry. I never wrote poems growing up, nor did I find myself picking up poetry books in high school or in college. But I did eventually grow to appreciate the creative outlet that is poetry. One of my assignments in class included finding a poet and trying to imitate their style and form. My friend had given me a book titled “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda. In it he writes these amazing poems about the time he vacationed on a tropical island with his lover. The intense focus on nature, and duality of love for his girl and love for the earth inspired me in my own work. Although, more in fiction than in poetry.

The main reason I’m in this class is to pick up some techniques that I could use to help me better my fiction. When I was in fiction workshops, poets were the ones who always brought the most unique and experimental fiction to class. While occasionally it fell flat, there was always something in their stories that I was envious of and wanted to try out in my own fiction. I think it’s the courage to try out something new, something game changing, that I really want to learn from this semester, even if I don’t pursue poetry in the future.

2 Replies to “How I got here”

  1. Absolutely try the “new” and “game changing” this semester! This is your chance to exert free-reign over your vocabulary and experiment with some new things. I would be very excited to see what you could do with this mentality. One of the things that has contributed to my attempt at the “new” is to keep a log (whether in my phone or in the margins of my notebooks) of whatever unique, interesting, or mildly poetic idea comes to mind. Then, once I have enough of these accumulated I sit down and combine them in new ways. I love the exercises Lytton is giving us as these are generating new connections so hopefully this semester you can truly learn some new creative techniques!

    One last suggestion: if there is a piece of your fiction that you are dearly fond of, I challenge you to transcribe it into a poem. Doesn’t have to be narrative. Doesn’t even have to be the whole thing. Just focusing on a piece of your own creative work and manipulating it from numerous angles would be an exercise that may generate a more explicit crossover into your fiction writing!

    Best of luck.

  2. I’m glad to see you thinking about the value of poetry to fiction – I don’t think the study of poetry has to be in the service of the production (or even reading) of poems alone. And we constantly praise fiction as “poetic” without really explaining what that means. I’m curious if you’ve read Gary Lutz, and fiction writer who, while not at all being a poet, uses language in ways that can seem akin to poetry. There’s also the prose poems of Sarah Manguso and Russell Edson, among many others; the anthology Models of the Universe is worth checking out.

    At the same time, I also encourage you towards the idea of fiction within poetry. On the largest scales, there have been recent verse novels by Bernadine Evaristo, Jacqueline Woodson and, further back, Glyn Maxwell’s Time’s Fool. But there are plenty of poems that see narrative as their goal; names like Joel Brouwer and Brian McHale sometimes get mentioned here, and Cathy Park Hong and Paisley Rekdal in some of their books. This post from a few years back might interest you:

    Long may fiction writers come to poetry and poetry to fiction and all other combinations!

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