I've been too much "in my own head" lately as a very dear old friend pointed out to me yesterday. These days I've wondered quite a bit about the "personal" or "private" circumstances that seemed to compel my writing The Spring Ghazals. I think of these things, & I think about how these things aren't really "private" any longer, not simply thru the publication of the book—tho that fact certainly complicates the questions I've had—but also thru this blog & other avenues of promoting The Spring Ghazals. These considerations, still unanswered in my own mind, have led me to create some questions for you, dear readers. I'm hoping your answers may bring me some clarity:
- How do you—as fellow writers—deal with writing about life experiences that involve other people, especially people with whom you’re no longer in touch?
- Are you ever concerned about “private/interior” realities being made public, whether the writing appears on a blog or in a book or is simply circulated amongst friends?
- Are there ways that you attempt to censor yourself—either consciously or unwittingly—when writing about severe emotional states?
- Do you think that “confessional poetry”—using the term more loosely than the standard definition—is potentially therapeutic, or does it, as Plato said, only “water the passions?”
- If you do or ever had, engaged in “confessional” writing (using this broad term, where “confessional” means something like dealing with intense emotional states or circumstances) are you conscious of constructing personae for either the “I” or other “characters” that distances them from actual persons, or do you tend to take a more “head-on” approach?
- Do you believe this type of “confessional” writing is exploitative, either of the writer’s own self or the selves of those she/he is writing about?
- For those of you who have read all or part of The Spring Ghazals: were there points at which this private/public interface seemed uncomfortable, or did the poems have enough of an appeal beyond the specific circumstances of their composition.
- In the case of a “confessional poetry” where there is a broad appeal, what do you think creates the broad appeal? In the case of a “confessional poetry” where you get more of a sense of “exhibitionism,” what is lacking?
These are some things on my mind, & I’d love to hear from readers on as many or few of these topics as interest them!
Pic shows my study in Charlottesville, VA in 1986