Friday, August 22, 2008

Poetically Speaking: Revisiting Voice(s), and Form

I took a bit of a hiatus from poetry-writing. I think I needed it. There was too much other "stuff" going around. This past week, I found myself again interested in listening to language and finding the words for poetry, especially since there's a voice I've been listening to who has interesting sentence structure, and especially since I've been listening to a lot of multilingual music these days, including Paul Piche, a French-Canadian singer introduced to me by my first love many years ago. That's not to say that I hadn't been listening to language before, and in fact, last month, I wrote a series of birthday poems and some others. I haven't been completely out of the loop, but I haven't felt the urgency that I used to feel, because others were expecting me to write. This week, there hasn't been urgency, just desire. Desire to write poetry. Desire to see what's hiding, what's lurking. Desire to see what that language I've been listening to has been doing to me.

For me, it's fun to write and to see where my process is. There's not as much bitterness in my voice these days, and I'm happy to see that. I don't think I'd have known that the bitterness is all but gone if it wasn't for my desire to write poetry this week. Yippee for me!

What is there lately is "voices." Maybe that comes from the impact that the book _The Day the Voices Stopped_ by Ken Steele and Claire Berman had on me last week. Maybe it's that I encounter so many people who hear voices that are not their own that I'm feeling connected to "voices" in my poetry. I also find that they want to be expressed in different ways than they had been before. They're manifesting themselves differently than they used to. And, the "I" in my poems feels important again. The "I" in my poems wants to be noticed, even if that "I" isn't "me." For a long time, "I" wasn't important, but now there's a difference. Maybe that's a part of my voice change. I have found my voice, when I didn't think I had one for several years. This process of rediscovering my voice is coming through in my poetry. While I write, I find that I'm no longer comfortable with things that I used to be comfortable with, and I'm comfortable with things that used to be uncomfortable.

Also related to recognizing that I have a voice and "I" wanting to be heard, I'm finding that my desire to write longer poems is greater. One of the discussions that I had frequently with other poets who I met with regularly for five years was related to the fact that my poems were always so "short"--almost always less than a page in length. During that time, it was difficult for me to have more than a page-worth to write. It was always a challenge for me to try to "stretch" past that length, and I can remember hearing surprise and praise every time I wrote more than a page! This week, my poetry has been longer, and it hasn't taken "effort" to get it there. I wrote that it's a desire to write longer poems. I'm not sure it's about desire, but about feeling like I have something to say, and the 'right' to say it.

I wonder if others have had similar struggles with voice in poetry. I hadn't really thought about it in this way--that my physical voice, or emotional voice, would affect, extend to, my poetic voice. That voice has changed and is in change as I change. I guess that's almost fundamental-sounding, but sometimes, I take for granted certain aspects of poetry and my own writing of it, as I would be willing to bet others do.

This is something that deserves more of my thought, but I'm going to rest on it right now.

Thanks for reading.