A Lump in the Throat

Hello, internet.

The writing progresses, despite the patent insanity of working two restaurant jobs at once. It amounts to a full time job and a half. Every day including weekends. But it keeps the bills paid and the groceries coming in.

In the chinks of time between novelling, shuffling scenes in short stories, and dishing out cappuccinos and beer cheese (not together, please), I’ve been finding myself filled with the curious urge to write poetry.

The title of this entry comes from a quote of Robert Frost’s (not, I admit, one of my favorite poets, but this quote is terribly apt):

‘A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.’

Quite.

Anyway. I have been writing poetry, and thinking about how it is different from prose. In poetry workshop, the subjectivity of critique reaches a fever pitch. For fiction, it is simple to point out plot holes, character inconsistencies…any number of concrete issues. But how does one critique poetry, or, once receiving critique, then edit? How does one even approach a poem critically? *flailing forever*

You know what, guys? I’m not even going to try answer those questions, because you can go find really smart people who use large words in academic essays to attempt it. And I’ve talked about them with other poets and writers. And they’re not what I set out to talk about here.

I am going to say, there is a sense somewhere between the head and the gut, an itch that tells you when a poem is not what it could be. A sense of growing, glowing satisfaction and pain and pleasure when you know it is getting close. It moves from a mess, to something you recognize as the feeling you were trying to convey, until it transcends your feelings and moves into something beyond. Something you can read almost objectively, simply for the pleasure of the way the words move, the way they make you feel what you felt while lending the feelings the patina of an ancient piece of art, something to be appreciated for its beauty as well as its significance.

Perhaps this is just me–most of my poetry is obscenely confessional (not as in, obscene like the Hays code would preclude putting it to film. Obscene as in over the top, too much, might be embarrassing if it weren’t in a poem and you said it to someone while you were a bit drunk). Putting the confessions into lines and scansion and imagery, though…it takes the power of the feeling and puts it into a place of aesthetics.

Poetry distills images and emotion. The resultant liquor is a whiskey worth sipping.

If you don’t believe me, or do and would like to drink a draught of poetical libation, here is my favorite poem.

Apologies for my admittedly flowery language in this entry. My only defense is…well, I mean, did you read it? I’ve been composing poetry. I’m in the zone.

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