All in the risk

A few weeks ago, maybe almost a month ago, I went to a reading at one of the private universities here. There were a few poets, a few fiction writers, a few playwrites. I didn’t stay for the whole thing, I went to see C read. Mostly, the other writers were pretty bland, trite, had an air of academia buzzing around them like flies. What I remember most about the one poet I heard, a middle-aged woman with poofy dun hair, was her lack of risk. How dull a poem is without risk. She spoke of an incident at a farm, a poem she had already written long ago, she said, but was trying again and this one was longer. *Great*
But it’s not about length; if you’ve tried it before – it’s about risk. What of yourself are you willing to risk in a poem? What are you willing to reveal? What are you willing to throw at the wall and force everyone to watch dripping down? That’s what I want poetry to be. That’s when I think poetry really succeeds in making connections. For me it goes back to that Joni Mitchell quote (paraphrasing): Strike our own nerves to strike the nerves of others.

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