Saturday 27 January 2007

The poet's defence mechanism...


The bane of my writing existence is this - I find the most sincerely expressed emotion comes across as Hallmark sentimentality. This is true when I approach the softer emotions at least - anger and outrage tend to come across as ponderous bombast if it goes wrong whereas Love, happiness, nostaliga all tend to emerge from my poetry as cheap, sentimental or facile. Unless I retreat behind symbolism and layers of refractive meaning (which is something i do from time to time) I find that the deeper the emotion the more a delicate touch is needed. Sadly this is reflected in real life; when I want to say something true and deep to my utter horror I frequently hear something smartarsed and inappropriate coming out of my mouth (I also have problems taking compliments, and sometimes go to say something I really want to say and find myself incapable of speaking.) As a poet this can lead to many a shredded poem; attempts to express genuine emotion turning under my very hands into so much sludge.

Unless leavened by humour.

I find that while I rarely write directly humourous poetry I do need that pinch of humour to add relief to my emotions. I need to see the ridiculous in myself - both in real life and in my imaginative life. I need to express this and link it to the similar frailty and bathos of other lives.

Part of me envies poets of bygone eras; when great concepts like Love, Honour, Duty didn't reing quite so hollow in the ears of the listener. Or perhaps moreaccurately they probably did, but society conspired to wink at the deception and people were free to indulge sentiment and sensibilities without fear.

But part of me, the honest part, acknowledges two truths; the first, that I cannot look at myself or my emotions without seeing the Divine Comedy in them and the second, that a poet should be of her time and in this slice of reality the sublime and ridiculous are intrinsic to each other. I am not without dignity in my most idiotic excesses nor am I bereft of idiocy in my most noble moments. Nor are most of us; we are equal parts King and Fool.


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