It’s 1:12am in Palm Springs and I’m sitting at my faux art deco table. The heater is broken in my room and the staff’s solution was to provide more blankets. My coat and my thoughts are better company. The late (or early) hour and the chill is a time for priorities I think, and when I think it’s often about poetry.
In my own writing I fall into confession and I blur the line between my art and my life. I edit each of my conversations like they are drafts in a workshop. I cry when my errors appear. I get embarrassed when I make the obvious mistake, write the expected cliche. I over write my stanzas in an attempt to bury my uncertainty in words.
This constant writing and editing in my head does little but discourage. The outward emotions of others drain what little I persevere for myself.
How can a writer who accepts confessional poetry as truth keep the thin line between personal and writing firm?
At a lecture I attended today the importance of clarity was stressed. The speaker didn’t say to be blunt, or to write without art, but to be precise in everything and to have a defined reason for each piece of a poem.
Later in the evening, when asking another writer for personal advice, I was presented with the idea of choosing how involved in life I wanted to be. What situations are the ones my frame should step into and what are ones to avoid.
Both comments, in their own way, appeared to be ruminations on the confession. There are situations to live, situations to feel, and situations to tell. It is the poet’s job to pick the skin in which it wants to live. Within that skin the poet must take it’s steps carefully in a deliberate direction or stumble and become lost.
In spite of all things, I think I am still learning to walk, still breaking in the skin I have chosen.