Friday, September 26, 2014

Me, Myself, and I

I've noticed you like to write to people, not about them.
Yes, I enjoy writing in first person.
Are they all real?
Who? The people in my poems?
Yeah. Did all that stuff in your poems really happen?
Yes. I'm sure it really happened to someone. Somewhere.
But not really to you?
No, not all to me. Not really
So it's really just lies?
In the strictest sense, I suppose you could call it that.
Fanciful tales from my brain.
Written strangely
In choppy
Phrases
That make you
Crazy
Sometimes.
The next guy will want to know if you were real.
And I'll have to tell him no, not really.
Then he'll stop
And wonder
If he's really real, after all.
And I'll smile
Because the poet
Has done
Her
Job.
Why do you write in short, choppy phrases?
And why do you ask me questions when you don't really exist?

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This poem was written in response to the July 2014 prompt on Poets Online. I didn't write it or submit it in time--July 2014 was a blur of grief and busyness for me--but I found the prompt intriguing, so I came back and picked it up now.

Questions Asked of the Poet

July 2014
If you are a poet and publish or give readings, you may have been asked questions about your poems. Readers and listeners often wonder how real or autobiographical the details in your poems might be.

Some readers expect that the first car you owned in that poem must, in fact, be the actual first car you owned. That Francine who was your first kiss - Was she really your first kiss?

How honest do you need to be in your poems? How autobiographical are your poems and how much poetic license do you allow yourself? Is there a line of fiction that poems shouldn't cross?

For this month's prompt, we consider the questions readers ask (or might ask) about your poems. There are two poems by Aimee Nezhukumatathil that serve this prompt. First is her poem, "Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real?" I like the way she answers the question in several ways and I think for many poets the answer does depend on the poem and situation.

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