The Personality of the Poem
And while you’re waiting for the doctor to see you now, there’s an interesting question you can ponder about your condition, though one that I’m not sure carries any real meaning for the production of art; namely, what is the correlation of the personality of the artist and the personality of the art?
In time, no one knows, or really knows, how close the experience of knowing an artist is to knowing the work of the artist: What was Wallace Stevens really like? Sylvia Plath? You?
Sometimes one reads a book of poetry and gets a feeling that the poet is the poetry. It’s an old fallacy, of course, encouraged by the “I.” Sometimes, though, we meet a poet after reading that poet’s work, and find that the poet is exactly what we would expect from reading the work. And sometimes not.
So far, that’s not too helpful.
The question for me rises out of the production of the work itself: what part of the poet’s personality does the poet write from?
What part of my personality, and how much of my personality, do I compose from out of? And why? Toward what end?
And what about you?
Wayne Dodd once said to me that poems should always be smarter than the poet who writes them. That idea appeals to me. And then, extending it, we have many words we could exchange with “smarter.”
“More,” is going to stand in for all of them for me. The poems should always be “more.” That seems a nice thing to compose from out of.
More what? Well, that’s an interesting place to start.
And then it becomes an interesting way to read one’s own poems. “In what ways are my poems more than me?” “What parts of me am I not taking to the production of my poems?”
That’s an interesting thought to take back to revision, or to take to further poems . . .