if the shoe fits I should wear it...

So, what I’m lacking with my own poetry is concentration. The world, the voices, the noise – are too distracting. Makes the work superficial, uneventful, too pointed in a direction.

Silence is so important for the mind, for the being, for art.

I have to move in a different direction from the voices, from today. I don’t want to write something for today. That’s too limiting and limited.

Relevance, identification, importance, even readers … are all yokes. If those are the reasons I write – if that’s what moves me – nothing I say or write will have any real truth, and won’t be the poem that should be. It will be art – oh yes … weak, watered down, superficial – but it will only be an imitation of something that could have been, should have been real, vital, certain.

For the most part – though certainly there are exceptions – the poetry I read in magazines and collections are imitations of the poem … lines impersonating a work – some, in quite gifted fashion – but, nonetheless, imitations. Not the real thing. Maybe that’s the comfort – I’m not alone in this. But I feel alone in the poetry… therefore I am.

Maybe I write too much. I know I think too much … It gets in the way too.

What if I only wrote, in my lifetime, one good and solid poem – What then? That would be something. Then I would be a poet. But, I haven’t. Still waiting.


Collin said...

I always find you have to slog through a lot of half-assed, uninspiring poems to get to a couple of even passable first drafts. When I sit down to write, I never think about publishing it, who's going to read it, who's going to "get it." I also look elsewhere for inspiration rather than other poetry. That's why films, music and fiction (and non-fiction) have been greater sources of inspiration lately that other people's poetry.

Keep at it Sam. You're a fine poet.

LKD said...

You perfectly articulated how I've been feeling lately, not only about my own poetry, but the poetry I've been reading.

My whole writing life, I've been waiting for that one good, real poem. Maybe I'd stop writing once I wrote that poem. Maybe I'd feel like a real poet once I wrote that poem.

Last night, I was watching the moon watch me--there, see, that's the line I was waiting for last night that wouldn't come to me--waiting but not waiting for a poem. It never came last night. Maybe it'll come today.

I used to write every day. I don't anymore. I used to get anxious during the pauses, the stoppages. I don't anymore. I've never believed in writer's block and never will. I truly believe that the brain takes breaks from the whole world as metaphor point of view. That can be exhausting. So, I'm walking and breathing and watching and not waiting through this pause.

I think I said to you once that I believed that the best poems, the truest poems were the ones we write in our heads, the ones we chant to ourselves under our breath, the ones that never make it to paper.

I still believe that.

intact said...

Everything you said here, I feel. I feel it here, everything. You said.

Mrs Slocombe said...

They come when they come. The work is in all the little nudges that suddenly make the poem unfold, like a secret passageway or a film by Svankmaer. I bet you have written one. And if you think you haven't, when you have, you will carry on, not stop, in order to write a more perfect one. Gee, I thought I was self critical.

M. C. Allan said...

Didn't Wordsworth spend 15 years revising some of his poems? I know where you're coming from, Sam, but I think every poet has those days when every piece seems dreadful. I often have them over pieces I start out happy with; a day or two gives me (better? warped?) perspective and I think it's dreadful.

I agree with you that one poem for the ages is a worthy lifetime achievement. Or one novel, for that matter. If I'd written "To Kill a Mockingbird," I would have stopped then, too.

Good luck with the quest for silence and the still small voice. I often find that even when I find that place physically, my brain keeps beeping. But I think I could cultivate my own silences better than I often do.

Pris said...

I can relate to this post, too..especially the wish to write more than one poem that really sings. I'm with silence on a regular basis, being mostly housebound with CFIDS, but silence doesn't bring poems to me. Something has to stir me, to kickstart something I want or need to say and then let it come in the shape of a poem. When I read a poet I love, I feel the inspiration, too. I find that many poems I see in journals and books bore me, so when I find one who entrances I feel I've been given a gift.

You're a wonderful poet!

poetwithadayjob said...

Sam I love this. I struggle with the quiet too, because it is in the quiet (a literal and figurative quiet) that I can ask the questions and attempt to explore answers (writing the poem) - but only in the quiet. Such a difficult thing to achieve. I have fear going into the quiet. I don't know what will happen. That is part of the wonder and potential in it.

Have you read Li Young Lee's book of interviews called Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee? he talks about this very thing. I found it to be an incredible book, and even more incredible insight into the why of all this.

Erika said...

Great post!

When I sit quietly, I can't write a thing or think of anything to write. It's usually when I'm listening to the radio or watching tv that a concept "hits me." At which point I grab my notepad or whatever scrap piece of paper is in reach and start jotting down ideas. Besides past experiences and husband and children (love poems), that's typically how I get my inspiration and "material" for new, different topics...

And I find I can write poems anywhere, regardless of sound. I guess with children (loud tv and videogames, toys crashing, etc.) I've learned how to drown out the noise and go to that quiet place in my mind.