Friday, January 27, 2012

in truth, in secret

This cupcake photo has nothing to do with the post, but if it's lured you in here, then it's done its work.
: )

A True Poem

by Lloyd Schwartz

I'm working on a poem that's so true,

I can't show it to anyone.

I could never show it to anyone.

Because it says exactly what I think, and what I think scares me.

Sometimes it pleases me.

Usually it brings misery.

And this poem says exactly what I think.

{read the rest of the poem here}

I think we're all working on that poem, we poets.  The secret writing, the secret poem.  I once took a course on the history of the book where we studied examples of secret writing in fiction.  Ciphers, codes, invisible ink. For a while I toyed with writing a book of poems in invisible ink.  A (very) limited edition, handwritten book that would come with a hand painted vial of lemon juice or whatnot.  

I've heard a few writers talk about the 'shadow poem' which is the one beside the one we actually write.  How it, too, is felt.  So it is with most writing - not everything makes it into the poem, or essay, or short story, nor should it.  But the best poems, for me, have this shadow poem - which is maybe more like a feeling of depth. 

I have quoted Ginsberg before, maybe even on this blog, but I think what he says about that act of writing secretly is worth repeating.  "It means," he says, "abandoning being a poet, abandoning your careerism, abandoning even the idea of writing any poetry, really abandoning, giving up as hopeless - abandoning the possibility of really expressing yourself to the nations of the world.  Abandoning the idea of being a prophet with honor and dignity, and abandoning the glory of poetry and just settling down in the muck of your own mind....You really have to make a resolution just to write for the sense of not writing to impress yourself, but just writing what your self is saying." 

I like his repeated use of the word "abandoning."  So much of writing is abandoning.  Writing as abandonment.  Relinquishment.   And isn't that always, ongoing, the most difficult thing to do - to write what your self is saying, just that.  And to settle into the muck of your own mind.  Which is going to be the most interesting, unique thing, if you can get to it, in truth, in secret. 

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