Saturday, 20 June 2020

Michael Sikkema : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

I’ve moved from thinking that poetry was something made by already famous people, tucked in books, and stuck in a library or classroom to thinking that poetry is a way of being in the world, characterized by transformation, improvisation, and collaboration. This shift was a process of unschooling, of refusing to think of a poem as a riddle to be solved, or a little didactic lesson to be learned. It was also a process of moving away from received forms and expectations and taking a more exploratory route. While I still respect haiku and sonnets and traditional forms, at some point it became obvious that they were just a little bit of a vast ecosystem and you could make poetry by the yard without ever having to consider them. I became very suspicious of popular book blurb ideas of “mastery,” and a poet being “at the height of their powers.” The term exerimentation is overused and overdetermined, but taken at its most basic definition, it means the poet can keep trying new approaches, can evolve, can keep attending to new voices, and exploring. I began to suspect that a small circle of friends who more or less got what you were up to was more important than having grad students write essays about the “School” you were in. I shifted from setting goals to get into Big Important Magazine to supporting and interacting with the small press world. I realized that promoting and publishing and creating venues for others to perform was just as important as writing and getting my work published. I also realized that writing/making in and of itself was a reward and had amazing mental health benefits,so doing a fair amount of work that you don’t even consider sending out or sharing is important and necessary.

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