i really don't feel i've improved over the past few months. i think i've started to adjust to a different type of experimenting with my poetry, but improving? i don't know. i didn't feel like the tidbits this poet offered us were too worthwhile, and it didn't seem like he was always up for conversation afterwards. i have some pretty serious thoughts on poetry, and i feel the need to keep myself entrenched in it; i have burning questions and asked him plenty, but didn't really get too much of an answer from him.
i think one of the things that i encountered in this class is the type of reader of poetry that goes for the content of the poem, trying to get its meaning instead of what i usually see my writing as: an act. most of the time, i have an over-presiding idea or feeling--sometimes just a line or a word that triggers the rest of the poem. i don't always know what the message is behind it, but it always seems to want to go somewhere and then trail off to another place, kind of like that robert frost quote that i learned a while back: that a poem should be like ice on a hotplate--it goes one place, then off to another, it wanders. i like that about poetry, and i strive for that in my poems. but a lot of what i work with, and a lot of what i like to do and just happen to be doing is sensory things. the poem should sound for me, should cohere in a different sense that may not necessarily make sense, or apparent sense. i think that's the benefit of having a reader read things: there's meaning to be made within the reader's mind, and there shouldn't be any idea that there's a real message that the poet always wants to get out. images should be a manipulative inside the reader's mind: they're clay things and get molded by whatever the reader is intent on seeing.
now, is this me being lazy and saying, "i'm not going to revise?" i don't know, i don't think so. i'm going to revise...but perhaps maybe leave abstract things in? is that good or bad in terms of coherence of poetry, in terms of keeping a clear vision of what the poem wants? i don't know. i suppose when people say "i don't get it" there are two ways to see it: one, they aren't allowing themselves to read the poem in a way that leaves "sense" at the door; or, they don't get it because there's something too obscure that's blocking the image. perhaps it's a little bit of both.
like, take my poem "In Which I Compare Love To." I had this first draft, and it's completely obscure--to me, it's a lost-love poem, but is that line "Any longer and our smiles will refuse to point", etc. actually saying something? Is it too obscure, or is the poem allowed to actually stay that way and be fine? I don't know. Now, it's in partial rhyming tercets, Abb, Cdd, kinda thing. it's also expanded. that increases the "readability," but really, is it what i wanted? is the act of the poem that i originally had in mind, that i originally felt and wanted others to feel gone because i've expanded it? sometimes it seems that way. so who should i be? the one who follows his own rules, or the one who follows others rules? or, should i be the one that follows his own rules while taking others' into account? what did i do before, when i was in college, that made these poems i wrote different? was it the challenge of the class, the amount of talent and pure want to improve inside the room?
for now, i'm pretty sure of one thing: poetry is an act. it should be felt. it may be a dance, and a refined one at that, but at its core, poetry's got to be something that hits you in the gut somewhere.