Saturday, July 6, 2013

If I Can't Reduce the Universe To Seventeen Syllables I Usually Give Up

For a couple of decades I wrote primarily in the confessional poetry style. It seemed like the easiest thing to do because the thing I knew best was myself, and they say you should always write about what you know. Then I got a whole bunch of experience working in seedy bars for over a decade and had a ton of stories to tell. So I did. I can look back at those poems and cringe. But one thing you always have to be willing to do as a writer is tell the truth.
I suppose you don't have to tell all the truth all the time.
Now in my forties the Objectivist, Imagist, and haiku poem have become my most common and comfortable forms. Whether I'm in the poem or not doesn't seem to matter anymore. I like that. Turns out there was a whole Universe outside of my own this whole time.
When I get an idea for a poem I start writing the words, and usually I start to wonder if I can reduce this image or emotion to 17 syllables. If I can, I do. If not I allow myself a few more syllables and try to write a short Imagist piece. If that fails, I allow myself even a few more words and make an Objectivist poem. If I can't do that I usually give up. 

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