the i

For a personal poem written in the first person to be good the poet must work against the dangerous tendencies of the “I”—self-congratulation, solipsism, untransformed confession.  To the extent the poet believes that the experience rendered in the poem is peculiar to him/herself, the poem will be tainted with narcissism.  Details often will be chosen because they “happened,” rather than because they arise out of the imperatives of the material.  This is to say that the good personal poem is to some degree always fictive.
            The not so good personal poem makes us feel uncomfortable the way the problems of strangers do.  We’re not quite sure why they’re telling us what they’re telling us.  At best, the problem is interesting, but we feel more like voyeurs than listeners who have some stake in what we’re being told.

Stephen Dunn

{preparing for class, i came across some old articles from my first creative writing and poetry classes. interesting stuff. a lot of which i’d forgotten about. all and all, a good read}


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