“To live poetry is better than to write it.” — BASHO
As a part of an Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Grant, our visiting poets are asked the same ten questions by One Pause Director, Sarah Messer.
In 250 words or fewer, poets share their thoughts on poetry in essays or excerpts from One Pause conversations.
Letting Go and Control For me, all aspects of poetry require only one skill: the ability to move between letting go and being in control. The first asks you to forget yourself as much as possible, the second requires an almost preternatural self-awareness. First, you have to learn how to let go of any outside sense of time, shame, hesitation, or expectation. You have to open yourself up to what you don't know you want to say in order to say it. After that, you have to be in control, understanding the true achievements of your poem as you shape it. The more you write, oddly, the harder it may be to reach one stage or another, and to make these stages work for you. Some find it hard to put themselves in the space of letting go the more they publish. Some take past success as an excuse for ceding control over their future work. Others give in too easily to editorial advice, or take none at all. And still others forget how there are fallow periods during which we need to stop working. The impulse then is to control. But the heart, or mind or spirit, is asking us to give in. Letting go and control. If you can master this practice, I believe you will have learned nearly everything important about writing. At least I hope so. I try to re-learn it every day. I know that I will always be trying.