Learning not to hold back: Blevins’ visit and reading

Photo couresty of Google Images.

Blevins talked about our poems in class today.  She workshopped my “A Monster Inside” poem.  She said the title was a little melodramatic.  But the form matched the back brace — a sort of physical constriction of the brace and a constriction of the form of the poem.

And she liked it — Adrian Blevins said she really liked my poem.  She told me to keep writing, that those poems are cooking.  I agree.  I always feel like I have something inside me that I need to get out, to record, to be able to go back to and remember or so others can see and understand.  They’re cooking, and I’m going to keep working on my writing.

Blevins pushed all of us to write honestly, in a confessional style.  She said if you distance yourself from the poem, from the work, it becomes easier to write more candidly, to not hold back.

She told us a story of when she gave the manuscript to her dad before it was published. He flipped right to the page of a poem discussing why she hates her father.  She said, “That’s not the poem to start with.”  Then she said, he said, “Adrian, don’t apologize.”  He was her permission-giver.  It’s nice to have one of those.

She also said CK Williams gave her permission to say what she needs to say.  She read a lot of him, Sharon Olds, Plath, and many others.

She said she writes in a very orally-oriented way — a way that pays attention to music.  She also said the poem writes the poet — it’s important to let the poem become itself, give it the reigns.  Figuring out what the poem wants from you is important, she said.

“I realized that the poetry is more important than I was,” she said.  I don’t know if I could do that.  I like caring strongly about what I write about because then I feel like I put more into it.  But Blevins said she tries not to have an intention for the poem, to just let it happen.

She said writing is finding a way to be vulnerable.

“Poetry taught me to be more open,” she said. “I was shy as a child.”

That really made me curious.  I was shy as a child.  Sometimes I still am.  But I’m trying to work against that, trying to meet new people and ask them questions, listen to their opinions and stories, so I’m not left out.  I’d rather hear about others than talk about myself, but I’m getting there — I think pushing myself to ask about others helps.

It’s an interesting thought to think that poetry, writing, can make a person become more open, less shy, not care as much about what others think.  In a way, it makes sense.  Poetry and writing is finding how to get across what it is you’re trying to say, what you’re going through.

Blevins also asked my class, what do you want from poetry that you can’t get in any other form?  Intimacy.  Writing poetry is expressing intimacy, it’s trying to get others to understand your life, your thoughts, what you go through, it’s trying to get very personal, it’s trying to connect and relate, it’s trying to show a clear image, it’s trying to be intimate with its writers and readers, it’s trying to share a very personal story.


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