Classroom Discussion

2 Mar

Are there some writers who feel at a disadvantage  because they don’t have a disadvantage background?

In my poetry writing class we discussed Nick Flynn’s collection, “Some Ether.”  A lot of the poems were autobiographical or were influenced by his life, considering Flynn’s biography.  Some classmates had qualms about the poems because A LOT of his poems were about his mother and because he recycled many of the same words in the collection.  When I first started reading his poems, I was more offended by how the mother was portrayed; she was simply a terrible person in most of poems.  I was offended because I am a mother and I have a mother.  But, nonetheless the poems were written wonderfully and were not about me.  I also did not have a problem with the poems using the same words, because  I treated each poem as an individual.  I enjoyed the use of simple language and of the rawness of the poems.  They aren’t raw because the poems may or may not be true, but they are raw because the language is open and accessible to everyone.  It isn’t cooked with words that are seasoned with degrees or thesauruses.  I am aware that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I felt like I was discussing his psychosis, rather than his poems.  One person was like these things don’t even seem believable.  When he said that, I wondered of his background and if he ever watched Oprah.  It also reminded me of the times something terrible happens to a person and they are not believed.

My professor talked about how some literary critics think that “confessional poetry” is not poetry, which is insane because poetry is about craft, not about what the subject is.  This led me to the hood in me and I asked myself, “Why these literary critics and students hating?”  And it made me think jealously.  Why would anyone say anything less than that?  Are there some writers who feel at a disadvantage  because they don’t have a disadvantage background?  So, they want to say that if you write confessional poetry it isn’t poetry.  That it is sensationalism.  I was like what?  (Besides, it could all be lies.  Maybe its some truth, with imagination, and lies. He has the poetic license to do that.).  Some lives are more poetic than others, but that has nothing to do with guns or suicide.  Someone can notice the gallop in the wind around a Magnolia, or the djembe in a dap.  It doesn’t really matter where you come from.  With the poet (or any literary writer) all the matters is how you weave the eye, the ear, the touch, the taste, the smell, and the heart.

If you want to read some of his work, click here.


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