Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Duende & the Bag We Drag Around

Getting back to duende, The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux has a chapter in it called The Shadow. In it they relate what the psychologist Carl Jung describes as our pleasant self with which we identify and our hidden self which we try to deny or reject altogether.

They go on to correlate this to what the poet Robert Bly refers to as the shadow. Our shadow is presumably a long beg we drag behind us throughout life. As we learn what others / society doesn’t like, we start “bag stuffing” or discarding into the bag what we do not wish others to see. By the time we are adults there is just this thin slice of us visible and the rest we’ve stashed in the bag we drag around.

Addonizio and Laux have pieced this altogether with Lorca’s duende (see yesterday’s post) and it is certainly easy to see where this other part of us comes from. Without committing anything to a page, one can see how our lives alone reflect this conflict. If we can dip into this bag as we write, our writing can reveal a part of us that offers a genuine picture of humanity that we do not normally identify with, yet, is very real.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to get away from self censorship. If we subconsciously withhold a grater part of ourselves in day to day life, how easy can it be to peel back the cover and let light expose that which we work so hard to deny.

My challenge is to go to that bag when I write and try my best to reach into it like I were drawing a letter while playing scrabble and just accept what comes out to incorporate it into my poetry.

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