At the beginning of February, I set the arbitrary goal to post something on Subtext each day. I have found over time that if I set goals, or establish a project around which I am writing, I will write more than if I just go through my life writing willy-nilly. Writing is difficult; so it is something that most rational people would not choose to do, because it causes anxiety by the sheer amount of honesty it requires. (or the equally difficult amount of dishonesty, if one is the type of writer who hides even from himself). I am compelled to write by whatever urges drive my life. Writing allows me to explain the world and myself to myself and the world.
When I go through periods of more sporadic writing, it is as if there is some loss in my life. Normally, these periods don’t last long, because I either read an incredible poem, or book, which makes me want to write, to try to create such beauty on my own. Reading inspires me to write, or I hear some phrase, either from someone else, or from my own thoughts, and that drives me to the page. Writing is cheaper than therapy, and as an introvert, writing is more comfortable as well. The year my mother was dying, my doctor prescribed an anti-depressant to me; I did not write much that year, didn’t feel much either.
It was interesting to try to write a poem a day. I knew I would probably fail at this imposed quota simply because the requirements of my life would get in the way. I figured I could just use poems I have written in the past, and had not posted yet, on days when my resolve faltered. And I did that a few times, posting a poem I wrote Lisa for Valentine’s Day in 1993 when we had no money, and a couple of others from a series I wrote in 2005-2006. For the most part, the 29 posts in February were all new, which was cool. I was fascinated and almost disturbed by my obsessive drive each day to write something, anything; just so I could get something out to post. I wrote a fairly eclectic range of styles/types of poems, even if I still orbited my usual themes and obsessions. But that is to be expected, I write about what I think about, and they are only about me in as much as my thoughts are a part of me.
I have for the last several years wondered if poetry was fiction or non-fiction. According to an old acquaintance, the American Library Association classifies poetry as non-fiction. But I can’t see that when I think about poems like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, or The Changing Light at Sandover. Poetry crosses back and forth between the two categorizations, being simultaneously fiction and non-fiction. Living, like werewolves, on the border line of both countries, between the living and the dead, the real and the imaginary, or perhaps as Wallace Stevens said about everything: poems are always moving toward the real, creating and changing the real as they are read and absorbed into the current (the confluence of great rivers?) and ever-changing location of culture. (Had to put in a Bhabha reference).