Hi everyone! Grace here to introduce our first guest blogger for 2016, KB who is hosting today’s poetics. He blogs in A Mirror Obscura.
I want to thank Grace for giving me this opportunity to host the pub today.
In an astronomy class I once took in college I learned a trick. If you want to look at a particular star you don’t look directly at it, but rather to either the left or right of it to see it clearer. To me that is what one must do when writing any poem.
On a broad stage, looking at poetry, there is only a small portion of that stage in which fiction has been given a place. In my writing, fiction occupies a large part in my poetry. It goes back to what Keats coined as a ‘negative capability,’ the sense of being receptive to the world and its natural marvel. To me this involves the use of fiction, imagination on the broadest of scales, if you will. It adds another dimension to poetry in that it can allow the poet to address issues they might not comfortably address as themselves, or allow them to address issues that are close to them and explore them from a different perspective. Take for instance the recent bombings in Paris, or anyone of the shooting sprees that have recently taken place. Imagine writing a poem from the point of view of the assailant.
This is most often done by the use of the ‘persona,’ from the Latin for mask. The basis of a person poem is a change in point of view in which the poet tries to think like the character, imagining their thought, actions, skills and limitations. The idea is to embrace the world of the character as if you were the character. That character can be someone you know, or make up, a historical or even literary figure. Ii is in mind the closest you can come to the world of fiction in poetry.Edgar Lee Masters, “Spoon River Anthology,” is an entire book of separate persona poems used to portray the lives and nature of a fictional small New England town. Browning’s, “My Last Duchess” is used to give us an insight into Renaissance attitudes. In my poetry, much of the time the “I” in the poem is a persona that allows me to explore different ideas. A more straight forward persona poem I’ve written is this one in which I imagined what a figure from mythology might have thought.
Here I am, Asterion, punishment of sin,
My mother’s lust made by Aphrodite
To couple with a sacred bull, give birth
To me and only hunger for human flesh.
So penned in by Minos
In Daedalus’ architecture of the amazing
Labyrinth kept me prisoner
Of other’s shame, a destiny to some.
Here I am, Asterion, called the Minotaur of death,
Who is a man but with face to look upon,
A beast of horn and snout.
Still I am a man in heart trapped
By the beast of me and walls that wait
On the youth of days, men and women given
Back into the womb of darkness
Of which I am the center to feast on sacrifice
Collecting, scraping, drying bones
To build life gone rung by rung
A ladder to reach above, go out
Into the free air to find my kind and live
As one who curses gods and men
In the simplicity with which they think
Both themselves better made than each other.
Here I am man and beast, god and mortal
Coitaled into one.
Yet, I still feel for myself the love of life
The civilized sacred and profane
Would despise me for and use at whim.
I know my future fate of freedom
Lies not by escape except
By the hands of one called Theseus.
So I pray let the moment of his entrance
Be that of my swift departure. I’ll not give a care.
But damn the world for all time
To be forever its own prisoner
Caught in a maze of pain.
So today, the prompt is to write a persona poem. The character you choose can be someone you know personally, imagined, or real—an historical or literary figure, just as long it is outside yourself. The object is to break out of the comfort zone of writing about your own feeling and from your own perspective. To this effect I would like to see you select a person you don’t know actually—it is so easy to imagine the thoughts of someone close to you—and instead pick a historical or literary figure you find interesting in order to really push yourself. Add fiction to the many other tools in your poetry tool kit. Stretch yourself if you can and don’t just pick something that seems easy. Have fun. >KB
K. A. Brace is 63, lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his three dogs and four cats. He is a graduate of The State University of New York at Buffalo where he received both a Bachelor and Masters of Arts degree in English.
Thank you KB. If you missed his interview before, it is here. Grace ~
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• Write your poem
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