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Passions in Poetry

The Controversial Molly Peacock

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Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 07-26-2000 03:26 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Molly Peacock is a poet and has made some very controversial statements. She is a formalist (some people describe her as a New Formalist) in that she writes in traditional forms. She has also said that the 'I' in her poems represents herself. She admits to writing autobiographical poetry.

The problem is that this is generally not what a poet will say. My 'I' poems are almost never about me.  Aspects sure - you can't get away from that - but never a whole sense of self.

So, is this a bold move that shows her courage in the face of poetic convention and indeed of the establishment that frowns upon the idea that poetry is only about the person writing it?

Or, is this a calculated move on her part to win over a certain type of readership because she is being 'real'?

What happens if you read her poems and decide you just don't like the person who is 'I' in her poems. Does that mean you don't like her as a poet or as a person?


What do you think?

Brad
Portia
Member
since 05-18-2000
Posts 157


1 posted 07-27-2000 10:59 PM       View Profile for Portia   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Portia

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he'll tell you the truth." (Velvet Goldmine) This applies best, as we all know, on the internet. And to a fault. (Personally, I believe the internet is going to change the face of poetic publication. And I'm not just talking about Ron's book. But that's my personal observation and another topic entirely.)

That in spite of itself, I try never to assume that a poet is his work. I would prefer people not make such assumptions with my work; I can see where some things in poetry-- for example some images, some allusions-- refer to real events in a real person's life that are "too close to home" to be fiction. However if I write about the trials of divorce, that does not mean I am currently undergoing one.

The reality is this-- some poets, especially contemporary ones-- will say "This is me; take it or leave it." But they will lay their innermost heart out for you and you are a heartless beast for not taking it. I see it as a kind of ploy for sympathy, and perhaps readership as well-- not that it makes the work any any less real or authentic, quite the contrary-- but it puts the reader in an uncanny position of befriending, and sympathizing with, the poet, and not just the "speaker."

If you read the work and don't like the speaker, then I imagine it would be hard to like the poet himself. But take this into consideration-- are you seeing a consistency, or are you seeing a singularity? I am one of the crowd that kindasorta frowns on the poet = poem style, believing it to be an occasional necessity-- *but* one that can be hidden to such an extent that it needn't be an issue. Right? Who knows if I'm writing about me, a close friend, or a fictional character? I could be *that* good. I mean, what do we do but play with words?

"And one day...the whole stinking world would be theirs..."
-- Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes, Oscar Wilde and, unofficially, David Bowie)
 
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