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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Full Frontal Narrative

I've recently finished up a manuscript and am thinking about what to work on next. It has occurred to me that the last time I wrote directly about topics that were painful at the time of writing about them, things I was struggling mightily with while concurrently wishing to conceal this struggle from certain loved ones, was when I wrote my chapbook. My book and my most recent manuscript deal with topics that have some temporal space between them and the current me, and even more space between my loved ones and the troublesome themes.

It's important to write about what it is difficult to write about, so I thought it was probably about time for me to face up to that again, although the difficulties have changed substantially since I last engaged in such a practice. But the fear is there: the fear of the amount of psychic energy and time it takes to face these scary topics, and more importantly, the fear of the pain that putting this stuff out there in the open can cause to people I love, people who have in part caused the pain but didn't mean to, or did mean to at one time but don't mean it now, or do mean it now but it would still pain them to have it out there in public.

So I was thinking this through, and I recalled a time when I had asked one of my sisters how she thought our family would react to a poem I had published. "Which poem is that?" she wondered. So I showed it to her. She read it through once, then twice, then said, "I think you give us more credit than we deserve. I don't think anyone in our family would recognize that this poem is about us."

I was stunned. How could they not see what was there in black and white? And yet they didn't. Which is the wonder of a poem: it's not full frontal narrative even when the poet thinks it is; even when the metaphors and imagery are clear to the poet, there is still the reader's interpretation of both/either the poem and any events represented in the poem, and these might vary mightily from the poet's. Even when it is full frontal narrative, there's still the fact that it's a poem, and doesn't necessarily represent the factual truth, although it must represent the emotional truth.

I'm still scared. But I think I'm going to start writing anyway.


Tressa said...


Jessica Goodfellow said...

I guess we'll see how well it goes, but thanks for the encouragement, Tressa~