MFA Thesis Diary #5: Talking to Ghosts

Creatively speaking, the last week has been a difficult stretch. I refuse to accept the term writer’s block. I believe (or at least, would like to believe) that creativity is about rhythm and, like everything else, that rhythm has ups & downs. With the Fall semester a few days away, my poetic mind seems to have been inundated with anticipated faculty meetings, appointments, classes, papers, papers, papers. So forth & so on.

Of course, you know this reality. Any emerging writer has to deal with the collision of creative & ‘real world’ responsibilities. It’s often frustrating, but unavoidable. So, instead of whining, I want to take this opportunity to remind myself why I am writing these poems.

1. I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. I believe in creativity with a purpose in mind. My purpose is to write poems that act upon the writer (myself) and the reader. Lately, I’ve noticed that I don’t write with an audience in mind so much as a question that I desperately need to answer. While I rarely arrive at a definite answer, the process of writing gets me a little closer. That’s what I get from my poems: the beginning of an answer. Hopefully, readers will use the poems to voice their own questions.

2. I’m writing these poems because I haven’t read them elsewhere. Yes, I am motivated but a lack, an absence of voices that resemble my own. Yes, this has to do with identity & representation. No, I do not shout about identity & representation in the content of my poems.

3. The process of writing this manuscript  allows forces me to confront anger, hurt, and joy that I forgot I had. Poetry requires a brutal attention to detail and so, the act of writing a poem about my personal experiences pushes me within inches of a past that (sometimes) I’d rather take a few steps away from. To write these poems is to talk to ghosts and, more importantly, let them talk back.

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3 responses to “MFA Thesis Diary #5: Talking to Ghosts

  1. These are some of the reasons I write as well. I think of my poetry as part of a conversation. The missing parts, the thing that initiated or completes the conversation, are in my head, or floating out there in the mists, as it were. For instance, I might write a poem, without actively thinking about the question “what does it mean to be a man, in the modern age?” that answers that question.

  2. Love this. I’m really where #3 is right now. Trying to figure out how to approach some things I’m ready to discuss. Talking to Ghosts is the perfect way to put this.

  3. good luck. i totally understand how you feel. when i was in my last year of my MFA, i just couldn’t seem to get my thesis collection together. i finally stopped stressing it & allowed the rhythm to do it’s thing (and when i was really, really stuck, i’d write in forms–which i usually hate–but it got me writing SOMETHING).

    good luck!

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