Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Extending the Challenge

Today my 218 students shot questions at me about my writing process. One came closer to the end of class, and it was something I'd never thought about before: What do I like best about my poetry? And I had no answer. I spend so much time critiquing my poetry that I haven't thought about what I like, let alone what I like best (a superlative implies multiple happy things, right?). I told them I'd get back to them. Here's what I came up with, although I don't know if any falls under "best."
  • I like the restraint that characterizes most of my poetry. It's often my downfall, because I don't give my reader enough to figure out the poem, but when your concern is expressing silences or absences, it makes sense to leave a lot out.
  • I get giddy over a well-wrought phrase. They are few and far between, but I think some of my lines qualify.
  • Speaking of lines, I find similarities in the structure of most of my poems. Odd numbers of lines in stanzas, lines standing alone, words occupying their own lines, line breaks that play with the meaning of the poem. The last is a newer development and it occupies a lot of my revision time--seeing if I can mess with the lines to do more than is already being done.
  • The lack of restraint--or rather, the lack of propriety when it comes to topics. I have no problem invoking the sensual, the disturbing, the embarassing, the depressing along with invoking the muse. This is possible (I think) because I use restraint in addressing these topics. Confused yet?
  • The last thing I love about my poetry (and the thing that I won't share with my class) is my muse. My muse acts as encouragement as well as inspiration.
I think this is a challenge that I'll extend not only to my writing class, but to the April and Fob diasporas, as well as Zero and all other writers who venture here. What do you like best about your writing?


oh! resolution said...

when i quit procrastinating and finish the paper i am supposed to working on i'll get back to you on this.

Anonymous said...

I like when I can make my sentences beautiful. Those are the rare times I truly feel like and artist of words.

Unknown said...

I really like that I've been able to express emotions that I've been feeling lately in writing. I've worked hard (both in polishing my prose and experiencing powerful strong emotions) to develop this new talent.

Tolkien Boy said...

I already told you what I like.

But, it's funny, I was thinking what I like about your poetry, and my list was pretty much the same as yours. Shows, once again, that we really are just the same person.

(But, more concrete images!)

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what I like about YOUR poetry:


Anonymous said...

And backs.

Anonymous said...

I'm not allowed to tell you what I like about my writing until I do more writing. Do you know of any good writing groups I could get involved in?

Anonymous said...

great list. I'm with Tolkein Boy--those are the things I like about your poems too!

There are lots of things I don't love about my writing, but one thing I do like is when it leads me to FINALLY understand what I was thinking about in the first place. And the cool inner click that comes when the understanding comes. Oh for more of those moments!

Melyngoch said...

In poetry, I like the way I incorporate archaic language and allusions into modern structures, and vice versa. I usually think I'm clever and significant. Granted that this is often what didn't go over very well at Poetasters over the years, but it's what makes me happy, as well as incomprehensible.

In prose, I think I write angst pretty well. But of course I do; it's my angst. I write it down, and lo and behold, it feels angsty when I read it.

Th. said...


Hmm. What do I like best....?

I think that I go all sorts of places and things always seem to turn out okay. Or close to it.

Shall we call that a sense of adventure?


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