I’ve recently taken a break from this blog to settle into a new home. The settling process has produced the surprising upside of inviting me to assess my creative work in a new light.
As I strive to create a new environment, I am reminded that we have the opportunity to forge something new in the body of our creative work by refocusing our attention and efforts.
David Citino, in The Eye of the Poet, writes: “With each poem the poet attempts to define ‘poet.’” With Citino’s statement in mind, I’ve been reviewing what my recent poetry has been saying about me. What do these poems tell the world in terms of craft, subject matter, tone, and style? What else do I seek to examine about the world through my poetry? What craft elements am I giving precedence to over others? Where are my blind spots? What elements encourage me to stand back and say, yeah, that’s it?
In Citino’s essay, he looks at the role of the poet in terms of earlier cultural models. He discusses the ancient Greek notion of poet as poietes, maker; the Roman notion of poet as vates, seer; the Old Arabic view of the poet at sha’ir, knower. He also discusses the poet as voyeur-observer, shaman, translator of the divine, archaeologist, and chef.
Which of these roles do my poems say I am creating? What insights does this questioning process bring to my work? Is there some other role to which I aspire? If so, what steps do I need to take to fulfill that desire?
Apply these questions to your own work. What do you learn?
Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in our writing targets, the completion of exercises, or the flurry of a new inspiration. It’s important to assess our work in terms of our growth as poets and in view what we want to send into the world. Are we living our mission as poets?