Monday, June 01, 2009

Do you believe in Muses?

Kind of a silly question on one hand. I mean do any of us put stock in mythology? I have been known to feel of times a muse has visited me and have cursed the times when they have left me high and dry. But the poet Ann Lauterbach rejects the idea of the muse and insists that she's not as much interested in inspiration as she is "in the riddle of making something."

In a P & W article in the May/June 09 issue Lauderbach talks about a process where once she gets words on a page she has to have a conversation. The poem is a form she argues and she says to the words, "How can I help you become a poem?" As a poet, she believes she has to become a most generous and critical reader. She likens it to being a really good parent. " I might say to the poems "you can't go there," but they respond "yes, I can." All this sounds a bit like standing on your head and stacking BBs.

I have to consider if I ask as much of words on the page as I should? Is there too much emphasis on trying to get it right the first time?

Writing is so very different from the general work ethic that stresses doing it right the first time so you don't waste time redoing it. We write to rewrite to rewrite and that runs against the normal work ethic.

I'm reminded of Dr. Robert Goddard, the German known as the father of modern rocketry. He maintained that there was no such thing as failure in rocketry. You are always learning- always striving to improve. Perhaps that should be the mantra for poets as well. "No such thing as failure in poetry."

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