Employing my self investigation as a writing resource evidently flows from the chaos of a maturing or developing self.
In my post, On “Write About What You Know,” I emphasize the utility and value of the writer’s self as a point of supply for writing material.
Today, I came across a self-assessment paper that I wrote regarding my performance in a graduate class. Though I wrote the piece a few years ago in 2011, I do not stray from my notions on the self with respect to writing. In fact, what’s most curious about the little essay is its illustration of my own self-discovery by way of writing. It seems that throughout my study of poetry and writing, my self unconsciously and inevitably manifested in the work. The self-assessment below literally depicts the unraveling of my self and then the weaving of it into my writer’s voice.
May 4, 2011
Final Packet, Workshop
Prof. Mia Leonin
I have reconnected to the concept of trust. I was not sure why my attachment to poetry was regarded and rewarded. By the beginning of spring, I came to appreciate poetry as an important art form and I understood why I was called to be a part of it. Still, in January, I was not convinced that what I innately had to offer was relevant. Since January, I’ve come to realize that my interior schemas and fixations are an asset to my “good work.” I trust and accept myself more. I have ended this year with a newfound enthusiasm for my content. This enthusiasm has stimulated my confidence too; now, I am proud and impassioned to work.
Regarding craft, I will consistently pluck images and correlations from myself. This opposes my goal at the beginning of the semester which was to lean toward the abstract and the intellectual. I recognize now that the latter goals are fulfilled when I pull from my interior. Intellect, history and research evolve as assets in any form of good work. So, now that I have diagnosed my good work as work being associated with myself, the complexity and layers naturally emerge. For instance, indulging in my obsession with Edie Sedgwick has inspired investigation and complex themes such as feminism, eating disorders, drug use, the suppression of art, etc. Once I accepted my obsession with Edie as an inspiration, I was in the library doing research. Also sans research I see now that my memory based poems, which I discarded as “too easy,” are intellectual and have evolved into a platform of social awareness for issues such as childhood, sexism, family, etc.
Now that I have accepted my areas of strength, I hope to nourish these the most. I aim to do so by emitting accurate setting. In the later portion of the semester, my focus on setting presented itself in poems such as A Poem for the Waitresses on First Street, Home Adoption, Guanahani Island – 12 October 1492, Summers in la Republica Dominicana and She Doesn’t Understand Why I Must Go to Georgia. Playing with exactness by using proper nouns such as character names and names of place can evoke a precise place. Also, details and repetition can orient the reader (the pantoum offers a nice starting place). The use of dialogue to evoke dialect, culture and education adjusts the reader’s vision/understanding of place and time.
My newfound enthusiasm to work sprouts from the depths of acceptance and conviction. I accept my course toward the sea, toward the feminine, toward the forgotten youth, toward the fringe, toward the suppressed. This is what affects me. It is what I think about, and placing it in the context of my adventures forces the work to exhibit expertise (personal expertise) and accuracy.
Regarding my thesis, I know nature and womanhood will serve as a skeleton. The body of the thesis will consist of various tissues, some built from memory, some from obsession and some from intellect. I am inspired by the use of prose in a poem, by the freedom to repeat, and the freedom to create form. I feel less self-conscious about my work and also about my identity. I think this will encourage proper creation. This semester has liberated me to construct my own methodologies regarding structure and subject-matter. I hope the poems of my thesis seep out of fascination like hair floats out of nets.