Saturday, 15 August 2015

Written in Blood

M. Travis Lane fires the inaugural salvo in Anstruther Press's new Manifesto Series. Her pamphlet, Truth or Beauty, is, among other things, a call for poetry that can give us "the truth about what it is to be human."
Recently a new literary magazine, whose name I omitted to write down, declared that it would “eschew” publishing the “overly personal.” But the personal is where all poetry begins. There are, I agree, some subjects not suitable for public chatter, but poetry and prose fiction, demanding as artworks more of our private attention, should not be so confined. Should we censor the musings of Leopold Bloom? (Perhaps what the magazine meant by “overly personal” were feminist subjects like menstruation?) There are no subjects and no emotions unsuitable for poetry. There are only two kinds of poetry: poetry that seems to have been written with ink, and can be intelligent, charming, serious or cosy—but always cool, and poetry which seems to have been written in blood: passionate, personal, and sometimes uncomfortable. As Walt Whitman writes in Leaves of Grass, “Who touches this, touches a man.”


Anonymous said...

The problem with this idea are writers who self-serve themselves, when they have serious moral (and potentially mental illness) issues and because they are clever enough with lovely and convincing language about writing, exposing people--from children to ex-partners--who have begged for privacy and are ignored.

On behalf of those who live in the reality of the 21st century and the exposure of the internet, so-called, self-claimed poets have no excuse for outing folks who wish to be anon and have done nothing to be outed, even under a metaphor.

Most damning about this piece is the mention of Leopold Bloom--he's a fictional character by Joyce!!!

Really? Joyce wrote in a time when social media and press on the internet did not exist at all! To invoke a fictional character (!) by him in a 21st publication is beyond the pale.

David Godkin said...

I think you miss the point. Certainly a poet wants to avoid being so personal that s/he overwhelms and stifles public interest. The flip side is that a poem may not be impersonal so much as evasive in some fundamental way about being human. Keeping the reader at arm’s length, denying your poem the energies or life-force or "blood" that makes it alive and real for the reader jeapordizes your ability to win a deeper allegiance with the reader.

Anonymous said...

Let's deal with truth, Carmine Starnino: editor of poetry for Vehicule Press. Let's talk actual real" blood" for poetry. And your wife too over at Maisonneuve. Let's talk about the money you and your wife gained thru the Websters. Blood? Joyce or even Walt Whitman would never allow such shit. Some of us actually believe in good writing and true finances and disclosure for such!!!!!!

Zachariah Wells said...

Let's deal with truth and disclosure, says nameless troll.