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true or false in poetry

Hadley R
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Joined: May 10th, 2010, 8:00 pm

May 31st, 2016, 12:24 pm #1

https://agnimag.wordpress.com/2016/05/3 ... -or-false/
an interesting essay. I have long had a problem with the way poetry is perceived as being autobiographical -- the way fiction writers have such leeway to make things up but poets are supposed to just write about things that are true and real.
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toniclark
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Joined: May 5th, 2006, 6:47 pm

June 1st, 2016, 2:18 pm #2

I have long had a problem with this, too. But maybe a slightly different problem. Of course, not all poetry is autobiographical. I don't have any problem making things up. Everyone does (don't they?). Well, surely a lot of people do, including very famous poets.

My problem is with people who assume that what I write is autobiography. Sheesh, write about illness and all your poet friends start well-wishing and sending you treatment suggestions. Write about death and you get condolences. I can't emphasize enough (especially on The Waters) that we should never assume that the author and speaker are the same.

Exactly like fiction writers, we often construct a fiction, or move beyond the particulars of our own lived experience, in order to convey emotional truth.

But I long ago concluded that people must think I lead a very wild life.
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churinga
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Joined: May 22nd, 2016, 8:06 pm

June 2nd, 2016, 7:33 pm #3

Poems can be about anything, be in any style and combine with film, photos  and music.  Many songs are poems with music and many poems are songs without music. Fry and Laurie did a funny skit where Laurie recitated a short poem for the busy executive, he then recitated a very short poem for the incredibly busy executive, it consisted of a grunt. 
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TerryO
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Joined: November 28th, 2014, 9:40 am

June 4th, 2016, 11:13 pm #4

Toni,

I hear what you are saying. But it is easy to give in to the unspoken expectation of authenticity in poetry. I was feeling this weight the other day when reading about certain poets who have suffered through illness and the loss of loved ones, etc. Beside their authentic pain, I felt/feel as though my life is cushie, privileged, soft, insignificant. What truth can I possibly add next to their truth? I feel this particularly when reading Paul Celan and certain other poets.

But then, poetry is not always about the weight--there is language, there is play, shades of the fantastic, pretend lives, second lives, births and rebirths, coming back as a spider, leaving as a rain cloud. Maybe we have to let the weight settle on us once in a while to keep us grounded. Then shrug it off and get on with the play.

Hadley. Thanks for sharing this topic. Your doing so has helped me out of my funk. And thanks Toni for the comments. You do live on the wild side, somewhere....
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