Sometimes I can’t help but think that, for all this reading I do, I really don’t know much about poetry. It’s not the kind of thing you can know about. It’s more like a compulsion or a feeling or a sickness or a religious energy or another human being in your body. Like I said, inexplicable.
I haven’t written anything in weeks.
I have millions of excuses why I haven’t, but I can’t seem to diagnose it exactly. For someone who plans on pursuing writing for the rest of her life, this is terrifying. In her essay “The Idea of Courage,” poet Louise Glück explores the idea that writing poetry is a courageous act. She offers a compelling perspective on the act of writing. Glück claims “personal circumstance may prompt art, but the actual making of art is a revenge on circumstance.” Reading that sentence brought to mind a quote from another inspiration of mine, Diane Seuss, who said: “if you can write about it…you win.” What better motivation to write is there? I can be anything I want when I’m writing, do anything, say anything, make anything. I can take any single event in the past and make a work of art out of it, no matter how much it hurt or how ugly it was.
But right here and now, when everything is so fresh and open, I can’t seem to do it unless someone’s got a knife (or a report card) at my back. The duende wounds, and I always question whether I’m strong enough for that. If writing poetry is triumph over the past, what do I do if I don’t want to admit it’s the past?
Poetry is what makes me whole. My interests run in so many different directions, and I’m passionate about each and every one…but poetry is the connective tissue that unites them. Wherever it is, I’m hoping the poetry comes back soon. Lately I’ve been thinking I might have to go out and find it again myself.
“For poets, speech and fluency seem less an act of courage than a state of grace. The intervals of silence, however, require a stoicism very like courage; of these, no reader is aware.” –Louise Glück