Tuesday, 17 April 2018

rob mclennan : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Very much so. I’ve spent the past decade moving through the sentence very differently, having shifted from the line and breath break of the lyric staggering across the page (which made up the bulk of my poetry during my twenties and thirties) to the allure of the lyric sentence, working almost exclusively in the prose poem.

One might argue that that is less of a change of consideration than simply an evolution of structure.

I’m far more aware, now, of many of the tools of poetry, from allusion and collision to breath and sound, yet there are still moments in my reading where I catch something that I hadn’t considered previously, something that I wish to consider incorporating into my own work (I presume every active writer goes through this process life-long, right?).

In certain ways, I am still writing what I have always written: poems that attempt to capture particular moments through condensed language; moments that contain meditations upon my immediate, including geography, family, friends, reading and thinking. Over the years, I’ve worked very deliberately to reduce the “I” in such poems, but I don’t know if it is possible to erase such completely, at least in certain types of poems. Even the invisible eye still remains.

And yet, I know I’ve been attempting to incorporate more political elements into my writing the past couple of years. One doesn’t wish to sound false by referencing something political, so the challenge becomes in how to speak of something in a way that is not only appropriate, but appropriate to the poem. I’ve always envied Milan Kundera for his equal considerations of social, political and personal throughout his fiction; one element doesn’t exist above any other. I’ve also been prompted by seeing particular works by Christine Leclerc, Jordan Abel, Stephen Collis, Layla Long Soldier, Eve L. Ewing, Shane McCrae, Morgan Parker and so many others that are doing absolutely incredible and essential writing (something I’ve been seeing far more over the past decade, as well), and I wonder how I can engage in my own ways. I think we are moving past the point where one can simply ignore the political when composing literary work.

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