Sunday, June 26, 2005

Poetry as a Healing Art?

Do any of you ever think about the effect of your poetry on the mental and physical health of your readers? I sometimes do. Often, I admit, I'm thinking about "writing a good poem." I have a poet friend I e-mail with who once read one of my poems and said it depressed her, it ruined several hours of her day. Is this what I want?

I don't think poetry should just be about "making people happy," though of course we all want to be happy --- right? But should poetry AVOID making people unhappy?

Of course "healing" is not just about happiness and unhappiness. For example, there's the grief process, which involves plenty of unhappiness, but is necessary for healing.

What kind of question was that, "should poetry avoid making people unhappy"? I mean what kind of control do we have over the effect of our poetry? Sometimes it's precisely "happy" poetry that rubs some the wrong way.

Do we write poetry primarily for ourselves? I know I write some poems because I "have to," emotionally. Yet sometimes people thank me for writing, or reading a poem. They have apparently gotten something out of it, either I have articulated something that have felt, or I have said something that gave them insight into something in their lives, or I have somehow, despite myself, said something uplifting.

Why did I write that poem about the bird? How did people react to it? My guess had been people found the poem creepy and didn't know how to react or what to say. Was it a depressing poem? Did it ruin anyone's day? I didn't have any particular intention when I posted the poem, I just did because I had written it and thought: well, I could post this new poem. Perhaps it was a healing poem for me. The fact is, I tortured myself about that bird the entire day I wrote the poem. I checked on its welfare about every five minutes. I obsessed about what I could possibly do with the bird, where I could keep it, what I would feed it --- but I concluded that it would probably die no matter what I tried to do.

The funny thing is, the cats found another baby bird last night, and Rae did exactly what I didn't do with the first bird. She picked it up, brought it in the house, put it in the safest place she could think of (a paper bag). This morning she broke off little bits of banana to feed it. The bird was hungry and devoured the banana, and kept opening its beak for more.

Probably, Rae's bird will die like mine did, but at least she will have tried to help it. She wouldn't have been able to live with herself if she hadn't. She may or may not write a poem about it. I had to write a poem as a way to live with myself. But it's a creepy poem. It makes me sound like a cold unfeeling person.

I raise questions on this blog about what poetry "should and shouldn't" be about, but I don't honestly believe there are any rules, or if there are, each poet makes her own rules. Yeah, there are the extreme exceptions, like if a poet broke the law in some heinous way and wrote a poem about it as a confession, readers might contact the authorities. But I do think, though, that it's worth thinking about why we write, and the effect our work can potentially have.

Those of us who are enrolled in an MFA program read quite a lot of poetry. For us, one the one hand, no one poem is likely to make too much of a difference --- if we read a depressing poem, we go on and read a "happy" poem ten seconds later. On the other hand, when we read and read, there are going to be poems that stand out --- we are looking for such poems. Some of them are going to be poems we find hilarious, some that awe us, some that we think are just especially successful, some that we find disgusting, some that are so depressing we almost wish we hadn't read them, but since we have, we won't soon forget them.

Perhaps healing is only one of a large number of purposes poetry can have. If a poet writes to facilitate her own healing, as some poets have obviously done --- Sharon Old's father poems come to mind --- is this a selfish thing? Well, Olds' poems have probably helped many with similiar grief issues and conflicts. If the writing is deeply engaged with processing and healing, and the work is powerful, it is unlikely that only the poet will benefit. But some benefit more from writing and reading humorous poetry. Or poetry that makes light of dark subject matter.

I'm happiest when I'm writing poetry that "feels important." For poetry to feel important to me, it has to be about something that matters, and if it's something I think matters to The World, and not just Me, then it feels more important. And yet, if I can write something that makes people laugh, there's something important about that as well.

So my conclusion is, there's really no conclusion. It's just something to think about, or anyway something I think about, that I wanted to share. I'd be interested to hear any thoughts other bloggers have about these questions.

--- Harriet

Friday, June 24, 2005

On the Run from "I" Poems

Emily Dickinson wrote at least 150 poems beginning with the first person singular pronoun "I," but lest we immediately assume she thought a great deal of herself, or always took herself seriously, we should look at the following example:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you---Nobody---Too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise---you know!

How dreary---to be---Somebody!
How public---like a Frog---
To tell one's name---the livelong June---
To an admiring Bog!

I want to change the last word to Blog. But what I really want to write about is something I think about at least three times a day --- not at regular intervals --- and sometimes I think about it more. Who is the poet behind the poem? Is there such an entity?

I should speak for myself in this blog-blurb (doesn't that sound ugly?), and stop saying "we" because I'm sure some of you are quite different from me. Here's what it is that bugs me: I write poetry "spoken" by a variety of personas, this is true. But I also write poetry from the point of view of an "I" that is at least approximately me. For example I just wrote one the other day, called "Multitasking"--- this is not precisely about me, it's kind of a spoof, and not all the "facts" are factual.

Is there a problem with "I" poetry because as the Buddhists say "I, me and mine" are illusions???

I wrote a poem about the problem of being an individual a few weeks ago.

Being Singular

A girl of ambiguous race in New York City
feels invisible,
eats chips and guacamole from a take-out place
in front of the TV.

The sun sets in Louisville,
thousands on cell phones, thousands on the Internet,
thousands flipping channels,
I with my headache, sadness
smoke on the front porch.
The little skinny stripy cat Kiwi
perches on the maple,
sniffs the vapor,
not the weight,
of being.

What is it to have one pair of eyes
one set of ears and one
brain? What does it mean to be one
and only one
network of arteries and veins
sitting in one
chair, hoping
the sky will not

Is there such a thing
as an eternal flame?
Years fly past like geese.
What came and went
just might not come again.

If "I, me, and mine" are an illusion, why do other people normally not
have a memory of the things that are "my" experiences?

I mean how do I differentiate between the brain I walk around with and the one you walk around with except by speaking of "mine" which contains "my" stuff, and "yours" which has been with you since your birth?

Can someone help me? I just don't understand the following statement,
by Jon Kabat-Zinn: "Awareness has no center and no periphery."
If I said I understood --- tempting as it is to say you understand things that reek of depth --- I would be lying. I may be spiritually wimpy but I
feel like there is a center to the entity I am, a point, a cursor, call it what you will --- a location, at least, around which all that I perceive is arranged.

Just because you write from "your own" point of view doesn't mean you're incredibly self-indulgent --- does it? I mean even when we write in the third person omniscient about characters who do not resemble us, we're still looking through the lens of our own perception ---right?

I'm acting like I'm worried about this. Actually I'm not. I've done a lot of experimenting with point of view --- you can tell yourself, if you're a white
American female in the 21st century that you're going to write from the p.o.v. of a male Sufi mystic in 1472, and the result will at least be interesting. Or you can write about the break-up of your love affair last week --- from the point of view of your ex-lover, or the p.o.v. of
your boss at work, who's SO glad you finally broke up with the jerk.

I guess I don't think that the "I" that is "central" to "me" is necessarily attached to anything of substance --- this is where I may agree with Kabat-Zinn. Yeah, there are a million elements that make up the microcosm that each one of us "is" --- elements that are more physical and biological, elements that are more "spiritual' if you believe in that ---
there is a list of so-called facts a mile long "attached" to each of us,
but aren't we also, at the same time, "Nobodies?" As much as we are
full, are we not at the same time empty?

To tell one's name---the livelong June
to an admiring---Blog?


Sunday, June 19, 2005

In Praise of Eccentricity

Mathematically speaking, eccentric means "not having the same center."

It's one thing to be "drawn over to the Dark Side." Eccentricity is a little different. Most, I think, would agree with me that it is not precisely the same thing as evil.

My ECE topic is a poet who has let me know one of her two main "teachers" when she began writing poetry was Leonard Cohen. Some of you younger bloggers may not have heard of him or know his music --- others may not realize he wrote/writes poetry. But at the moment the quote I would like to post here is not from a poem, but from a song, probably Cohen's best-known song. I bought a book of his poetry and songs to try to figure out how my poet was influenced,
so I've got the lyrics in front of me. This is the third verse:

Now Suzanne takes your hand
and she leads you to the river
she is wearing rags and feathers
from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
on our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
there are children in the morning
they are leaning out for love
they will lean that way forever
while Suzanne holds the mirror

This Suzanne is perhaps not your archetype of a well-dressed career/soccer mom. I certainly don't mean to knock the latter, my own mom is one (though I played ice hockey) and our society would collapse without them. But what about this strange woman in her rags and feathers pointing at garbage and flowers? Certainly Cohen paints a romantic picture of her (which began in the first verse, then there's a verse about Jesus). Suzanne is no desperado suicide bomber,
there is no suggestion that she is breaking any law at all.

The line about the garbage and flowers is my favorite. I think we all have to look at both, as human beings, and it is my contention that it is more honest to look at both as poets as well.
Some would argue that as poets we don't have to be honest, that art is not about honesty. Yes, flowers smell better, look prettier. Of course we keep the kitchen trash can covered, sometimes hidden away under the sink for a good reason. I would not suggest to anyone that they do otherwise. It goes into the big plastic city garbage can, out to the curb, and off to the landfill.
One of the reasons we Americans sometimes feel superior to other cultures is that we keep our garbage pretty much out of sight.

Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton were two poets who made poems out of their garbage and published them. Non-suicidal poets like Sharon Olds have done the same thing. Olds I'm sure has won many awards; most recently I saw her listed as the recipient of the "Golden Rose" award from the New England Poetry Society --- a flower!!! This is the poet who wrote poems about a jar of mucus on her dying father's bedside table, about her dying father lifting his hospital gown to show her his naked body.

I happen to find these two poems by Olds, much of Sexton and Plath quite unpleasant. Do I wish they hadn't written the poems? No. Each of these poets writes about stuff that is a part of all our lives. Speaking of literal garbage, my uncle spent two or three years ingeniously making art out of it --- not that garbage art was by any means his invention, but he gained some notoriety, had some shows, and my aunt and uncle had a very colorful living room, until he finished with this phase and trashed it all, moved on to something else.

In a world of divorce and war we have to consider our options. We can ignore what's going on around us and write about the "flowers" exclusively, that's one option. Will this keep us happy, balanced, healthy and in some way contribute to the greater good? There's a new movie out, my dad just told me about it, called "Turtles Can Fly." It's an Iranian/Iraqi collaboration, about the situation near the borders of the two countries, and the Kurdish refugees. My dad said it's "in some ways grim, but has a sense of humor to it." It's about realities like land mines and women who had been raped by Saddam's army.

As Americans, we don't often have such "grim" things to deal with in our everyday lives --- we are still blessed. But what about those of us who have grim or frightening or just whacky things to deal with --- not in the world out there, but inside ourselves??? The Leonard Cohen song is not grim, it does romanticize this rather eccentric woman. I'm sure I don't understand everything the song is about.

I'm probably a little whacky today because I didn't get enough sleep. Whacky enough that I want to share a poem that is written from an "eccentric" point of view. I would welcome feedback as to whether this poem has a right to exist.


In a mental interview with herself, the psychiatric patient
asks: have you ever been
scared of yourself?

There was a time I saw white.
From the bottom of the screen of my awareness to the top
there was nothing but

I was in a little room, then, wanting nothing more
than to smoke a cigarette. I found
a pack in my pocket, somehow
they hadn’t taken it, and I put one in my mouth,
tried to will it lit.

On the white screen was a figure:
a dark man. He was dragging
a garbage bag full of liquor bottles.
He was my roommate’s boyfriend, a drunk.

Another frame: my roommate, dressed in white
showing a white house
to potential buyers who are not
visible. She stares up at the white walls
which extend so high she cannot see the top.

Yes, I’ve been scared of myself because I’ve seen
stories that did not have happy
endings, and I’ve not been able
to smoke.

Then when they took me upstairs I thought
someone would come rescue me ---
I always think that.

--- Harriet

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Aimee's exercise

Some of you may have read my awful poem called "exercises" where I whined about writing exercises. But after reading Rane's and Aimee's results from that exercise, I decided to try my own. I didn't get the words from the dictionary, I grabbed the nearest book which was
Komunyakaa's Neon Vernacular.

The words are: alphabet, poodle, locomotive, laughter, hubcap, music, fruit, unicorn, junkyard

The Alphabet of Laughter

I heard the music of the hubcaps late ---
later than I possibly could wait.
The locomotive, show and lumbering
had shaken my foundation, I did not
sleep that night, my poodle also stayed
alert; he must have heard the music too.
But lest you think I suffered through the night,
let me reassure you that the sight
of that junkyard unicorn made it all worthwhile.
Yes, the hyper-vigilance bore fruit.
A mountain of ethereal white flesh ---
that unicorn was dressed in heaven’s suit.
I wrote an alphabet, an alphabet of laughter,
and all the dreams that come must follow after.

Thanks for the exercise, Aimee. I personally like the result much better than that tortured
thing I wrote the other night.

--- Harriet

just for the record

I THINK I've changed my settings now so anyone may comment. To all who have visited my blog and been unable to comment, sorry to have seemed so inhospitable.

--- Harriet

on spiritual poetry

I've been thinking about posting something on my blog that is actually about poetry. Should you have read any of my previous posts, you by now are asking yourself the question: "What's her day job, and when is she going to go do it?" The fact is, I'm enjoying the "academic" summer vacation, teaching doesn't start until fall. SO, I divide my time between a) being up to no good and b) writing about it. And of course there are responsibilities such as a baby (not mine) and a puppy (not mine either) in the house; though neither is mine there are hours in the day devoted
to making sure one little one has his "binky" and the other doesn't poop on the floor.

Now that I've broken my promise to write about poetry for an entire paragraph, I'm going to ask the question which I refuse to answer: what IS spiritual poetry? which begs the question (which I will NEVER answer) what IS spirituality? Now for my answer to the latter question: it's that thing people write all those tacky bestselling books about. So what is spiritual poetry, a response to that kind of book, the kind that explains the whole universe and gives simple practical steps for being happy and getting what you want???

When people talk about spiritual poetry, names like Rumi and Rilke come to mind. To be a spiritual poet, your name has to begin with a R and end with a long e sound (as in the Incorrect
pronunciation Rilkee)

OK, that's the long and short of it.

Well, I was reading Rumi last night as I do once every six months or so. Yeah, there's that age-old (or late twentieth century?) distinction between the spiritual and the religious. Great minds like Monica Lewinsky have said things like "I'm a very spiritual person, just not religious."
Rumi is not your run-of-the-mill Muslim though I believe technically he was Muslim. Now, at this exact moment I don't have a single Rumi book on hand to refer to. But Coleman Barks,
Rumi's best-known translator, has said things like: "Rumi's religion was everything," or "Rumi's religion was love." These are not direct quotes.

There are those who would claim for poetry a greater capacity for communicating whatever that thing is we call spirituality. A poet whose name does not begin with R, namely Dickinson, has a poem that begins: "I dwell in possibility/a fairer house then prose."

Is spirituality about "possibility?" A quote from a Rumi poem entitled "The Many Wines":

Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when its been untied
and is just ambling about

Rumi supposedly (I've heard more than once) never actually drank wine, but used wine as a metaphor. He was big on this thing he called "freedom" --- I do feel, myself, that the practice of poetry gives unparalleled freedom, by which I don't just mean "freedom of speech." I mean I don't groove on poetry because I can use the f-word if I want --- actually I USUALLY save my vulgarity for shouting from behind a closed window at other drivers.

I would be doing much better if I had the book with me that I was reading last night. But here's my question: does poetry have limits??? Mark Strand says:

"I believe that all poetry is formal in that it exists within limits, limits that are either inherited by tradition or limits that language itself imposes. These limits exist in turn within the limits of the individual poet's conception of what is or is not a poem."

Does this sound like something Rumi would have said, or Dickinson??? One of my favorite Rumi poems, which I would quote in full if I had it here, ends:

are rough notations for the music we are.

Rumi has a thousand metaphors for God in his poems. No, I'm sure he has more than a thousand. And yet he says that no metaphor can describe whatever it is. He was a compulsive talker, singer of poems, but he often seemed to indicate that silence was --- what did he say silence was? He recommended silence. He also said prayer was one level of spiritual communication, meditation a higher level, and the highest level sohbet, or conversation.
He seemed to frequently "converse" with people who weren't there. Or, one supposes, with God. Should we lament that he was born too soon for Haldol?

I maintain a certain level of suspiciousness, myself, about spirituality, about all those bestselling books of which I've read a few, but I'm not like my dad who, when he says "that sounds spiritual" may as well be saying "that sounds like horse----." I don't, for example, believe with tha Kabbalists that it is possible or even desirable to purge ourselves of every trace of
negativity, that if we do we will literally live forever. Rumi doesn't believe this either, I remember one place in a poem where he says "good and bad are mixed."

If I thought I could only say "good" things, either out loud or in my poetry, I would be mute and have a severe case of writers' block. No, I don't think that to be a spiritual person or poet is to be "good" or virtuous at all times. To me, what is spiritual is to be a witness, not in the specifically
Christian sense (like JWs and other evangelistic types), but in the sense of being present, as Rilke said (finally I'm going to quote Rilke) in the 7th Duino Elegy: "Truly being here is glorious."

With that I will say my amen, and make the note that I hope there is something worth commenting on in all this drivel...

--- Harriet.

on taking oneself seriously

My beloved mother, when talking about herself, uses the pronoun "one."
Most women, I think, have those distressing moments when they realize they're turning into their mothers. Well, I don't. OK, so my nose just grew three feet. Now, I was not raised to take myself too seriously. I was warned at an early age about the ugliness of self-importance. And I will not accuse my dear mother of it, especially. No, she's just mean. That's not fair either. She's really quite nice, except to golden retrievers and
my friends. OK, so what's the point here?

I will throw in another quote from Charles Simic:

"What's the point in reading a poem, many will say, if there's no point to it? For the same reason, I would answer, that it's pleasant and even poetic to take a walk to a strange city with no destination in mind and end up getting lost."

I find these words comforting; maybe there's hope for someone like me. But I did sort of have a point: I want to let my fellow bloggers know that if I had had time today, I would have felt monumentally embarrassed about
my early early am post, about the particular quotes I chose, and the rough and sentimental poem, which, to my self-critical eye, displayed a whopping scoop (I'm thinking mint chocolate chip) of self-importance.

Stacia told me not to be self-depricating, and since I can't even spell the word, I must be on the right track. No, I will toot my own horn from now on. The only problems are, a) every time I've stuck the mouthpiece of a horn in my mouth and followed directions, only the most pathetic little fart-like sound has come out of it, and b) even if I could get the horn to make a sound, I most certainly couldn't coax it into any kind of tune.

I don't always feel my poetry is lousy, Stacia. In fact sometimes I feel pretty darn elated to have written whatever it is. But this particular poem,
with its use of the word "heart" which Ernie O'Dell, president of Green River Writers, says along with "soul" should be used as often as the button which will unleash nuclear war... and with it invocation to robots, beginning with the "O" of pathos...

Well, I've climbed a tree and I'm not coming down until graduation. Or was I in a tree all along? Is the "actual nuthouse" of this blog actually a treehouse? That's a good place for nuts, actually. My favorite tree grows
Mixed Nuts. Or provides refuge for them. It even feels protective toward Brazil nuts, tough nuts to crack which seem unworthy of the effort. I have to provide protection for Brazil nuts because I am a Brazil nut.

Which by now will not be difficult for any of you to believe. Yes, this blog
has taken a somewhat bizarre turn. Remember, I like it when there's no point. I enjoy getting lost. I used to get lost in Chicago between the South Side and the North Side. Some people call it downtown. I called it a labyrinth. I was never truly lost, because I always knew where the Lake was.

So where's the Lake?

--- Harriet, who has her ECE half-done

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Fool's Paradise

"...the poet who refuses to face our tough and predatory reality
is living in a fool's paradise."
Czeslaw Milosz

on the other hand:

"It's a bad idea and a complete waste of time to prescribe what poets must or must not do because the best ones will always rebel and do the opposite."
Charles Simic

and here's a poem by HL:


On their blogs, the poets give writing exercises
I, being contrary, think life's meat demands
such attention; how could I write
simply to display my virtuosity, using,
say, a list of twelve words?
No, I don't write poetry because I'm clever;
some days I write because
I simply must acknowledge
I must make something of it, because a blink
is all it is. And one day I'll be dead.
No one will know about
how blessed I feel now
with the cool air blowing in my face
the cats curled nearby
heavy metal rocking in the corner,
the possibility of
a cigarette.

There are so many humans now;
one day there will be none.
Will there be Spielbergian robots
that can read our poetry?
Do we want to leave behind
displays of skill?
Or is it, as I think, more important
to write down our hearts,
to write down how baffled we are
by the mystery?

O robots,
if you are the only intelligence
left on this earth ---
capable of deciphering the printed word,
perhaps not capable of
feeling ---
try to wrap your electronic
brains around this concept:
I feel sad today,
thinking that the human future
we all should want to hold as its heart beats
is being wrecked by
our own apathy,
meat-shredding teeth,
boredom, which drives us to
kill the sky, make Hell,
pretending to dwell
in peace.

I should mention that the quotes above the poem are from an excellent book of essays by Charles Simic entitled The Metaphysician in the Dark (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003).

Another remark: no offense to those poets who enjoy writing exercises, so do I in just a slightly different frame of mind. Another quote from Czeslaw Milosz:

"The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person."

So to all of the various people each of us are, may the poetry gods bless you with iambic blessings, or if you're really picky, with dactyllic ones.

--- Harriet.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I thought maybe (why do all the fonts look the same when I type them here?) I'd mention a couple of contests --- I've frittered away a couple of hours getting submissions ready, and
could use some competition --- I mean I KNOW I'm the only poet in the US who has entered
these contests so far.

An easy one to enter is Literal Latte ( for guidelines).
A picky one is The Comstock Review (
I also entered the Bitter Oleander one, though my poems are nothing like what they
publish. Their postmark deadline is June 15th (
And if you have travel/foreign culture poems or if you're a woman and have a lyric poem 21
lines or less, the New England Poetry Club has a contest for you (

Of course, any of you who subscribe to Poets & Writers has all this info at your fingertips, unless of course the latest issue is buried under a stack of mail. Actually, my new issue came today and
these contests are in the old issue.

I'm afraid this accidental blog got my day off to entirely the wrong sort of start --- I've been doing everything BUT consulting my ECE materials. I never enter contests, for example. I mean never is a relative term: I enter book contests with huge cash prizes and spend five months
spending the money mentally, until I finally receive the notification that Betty Boop in
Bad Butte, Montana has won with her collection: "Sunsets, Waterfalls and Adorable Kittens."

So anyway, may the poetry gods and my fellow poets forgive me for this blog. Happy writing to all.

Busy Signal

I had absolutely no intention of creating a blog today. I tried to register so I could make a comment on Stacia's blog and suddenly was prompting me for a title for my
blog. I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS, I said meekly, but no one was listening. Yeah, I'm
one of those 3rd semesteers who must eat ECE for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, at times
like this in the past I have had various options, and one of them is to "make the best of it."

I think the comment I spent all of about five minutes typing for Stacia's blog has probably
been erased. FIVE MINUTES OF MY PRECIOUS TIME, down the drain. So by way of intro-
duction to this blog I had no intention of creating, I will attempt to re-construct my comments,
as they are apropos of something.

Or, no, I won't try to duplicate what I said. I'll try to make some statements which are a response to all the blog-reading I've done in the past couple of weeks.

Stacia and Gwen were talking about the pros and cons of writing about "family stuff." Jae was
talking about the questionable value of "accessible" poetry. I am a poet who tends often to write about family stuff, and who most often writes accessible poetry. I think a good ten percent
of my poetry is accessible narrative poetry about family stuff. Maybe even twelve percent.

Obviously, not every poet is striving to live the Socratic "examined" life through her (or his)
poetry. Some would contend that poetry is an art form, not a form of therapy. And accessible poetry is not "art" because it "dumbs down" the reader. The comments on Jae's blog included
the expressed desire to credit the reader with intelligence, to give him (or her) some work to do.

Back to family stuff, especially negative family stuff: Plath avoided writing it, but then it all came out at the end of her life. I'm not saying there's a lesson in this; obviously we are not all "disturbed" like Plath. I do agree with Gwen about balance. If writing about negative things
is a way of "exorcising demons" --- is that using poetry the wrong way? I don't think the choice
of subject matter is what makes a poet healthy or disturbed. One can write about horrific stuff in a balanced, sane way.

Back to accessible poetry: on the one hand, one might write it if one wants a larger audience than just fellow poets. For example, I wasn't going to write something emulating Pound's Cantos when I was memorializing a friend who had committed suicide, in a poem which I read at his funeral. On the other hand, I admire clarity in the work of other poets, I began writing poetry only after I had read poetry that spoke to me, that was about real life, that didn't give me a headache as I tried to figure it out. Sometimes the material a poet chooses to write about is very complex, and it is a challenge to convert this material into an accessible poem.

I don't mean to sound defensive. I think there's a place in the poetic universe for the kind of poetry Jae prefers, I hope there's a place for my stuff as well. There have never been more poets than there are at this moment; we can reject what we don't like, keep our eyes open for stuff that grabs us. Reacting to what we don't like is important in the development of our personal aesthetics.

--- Harriet, who is too busy to have written this.