During the month of April, I’ve been asked to select poems of the week for TheThePoetry blog, and doing so has been an honor and treat so far. As a way to celebrate National Poetry Month, I’ll post my selections here. All of the selections I’ve made so far are by poets whose work I deeply admire and poets who have been supportive of me in my career as a poet.
The first selection, which ran last week, is the poem “Bliss” by Christine Gelineau, which you can read here. The most recent poem of the week is “Watching the Pelican Die” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, which you can read here. I am lucky and fortunate enough to know both poets. Christine was one of my mentors during my time spent completing my M.F.A. at Wilkes University, and Maria is currently one of my professors in my Ph.D. program at SUNY Binghamton. Both poets are strong supporters of their students and wonderful writers. I hope you enjoy ther work.
The website also just published an interview with Maria, some of which I want to quote here as a way to think about poetry, especially the narrative form that she and I use most often.
In regards to the narrative form, she says, “My vision of poetry is that it should be based on some essential truth about what it means to be human and I think narrative poetry gets at those truths more directly and effectively than many other types of poetry. I want to give people permission to tell their own stories and to look at the world unflinchingly through the their own eyes rather than worrying about what critics or literary theorists say about writing. Like Faulkner, I believe literature is about the truths of the human heart and not about intellectual analysis.”
Later in the interview, she says of the writing process, “I think it is unfortunate that so much of our education trains us to subdue all that is wild and primitive and honest inside ourselves and in our writing. I think that we have to be willing to let go, to ignore our intellect and allow instinct to take over. In revision, we can use our intellects, but in writing the poem we need to believe that this instinctive voice knows what we need to write and as soon as we look that very middle-class,suburban inside voice, we lose the energy and vitality in our work. Even in revision, we have to be careful, to prune the work with delicate hands.”
Enjoy the poems and enjoy the interview!