Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why Write?

Alfred Corn's latest thread on writing:

The USA is where writers on Facebook say, "I write for myself, recording what comes directly from the heart. I don't care about audience and never take other people's standards into account." But then, when a poem is accepted by a magazine or nominated for inclusion in the Pushcart annual, joyfully announce the fact, to a chorus of congratulations.

  • Carole Ann Borges The two are not mutually exclusive.
    1 hr · Like · 3
  • Alfred Corn How so, Carole Ann?
    1 hr · Like
  • Wendy Battin These USA comments indicate that I don't live here. That comes as no surprise. (I don't check my phone often enough, either. Sorry.)
    1 hr · Edited · Like · 2
  • Su Zi Well, we could call it philosophical inconsistency, or hypocrisy; we could claim it as defensive posturing that unveils itself; we could call it self effacing with a dessert of pride; we could be kind and celebrate the publication and ignore the self conscious statements that preceed it. Given the cultural celebration of the moronic without the joyous breath of oxy, and given the gulag-like attack on anthing thoughtful, I would tend toward the huzzah for publication in the spirit of unity
    1 hr · Like · 2
  • Bill Lantry Always disbelieve those who say they write for themselves. Never accept claims disregarding audience. I've always thought poets should be honest, but we tend to deceive ourselves first.
    1 hr · Like · 4
  • Alfred Corn I believe the poet who says s/he writes only for her/himself and is indifferent to audience, when they never enroll in a writing course and never seek to publish.
    1 hr · Unlike · 4
  • Wendy Battin I might write for myself insofar as I have to write, but that's because it's meant to read and to have its own life in the reader. Bill Knott is still too close to my thoughts now to see it otherwise. As for speaking the heart, that's not enough to make poetry without all of being and skill behind it. The language has the whole in it. Speak that.
    1 hr · Like · 3
  • Carolyn Holmes Gregory I have been a serious writer for many years with a number of major life interruptions that took place vis a vis deaths, other unexpected losses, times of poverty and the like. I have not ever written just for myself, only, and am more public now than ever as a vocal activist for change on many levels. I have a pen and a voice and so I use them!
    1 hr · Like · 3
  • Anna Husain Is there any particular reason for this? We write for ourselves, others, we are each autonomous as to how we come to writing and where it takes us, must there be one rule to rule us all, and the rest be damned, because they are seemingly insincere or "hypocritical" or not to our code of literary ethics? With my last breath, I vote for inclusion, to talent and worthiness, let fate and history sort out the rest.
    56 mins · Like · 3
  • Djelloul Marbrook I too am thinking of Knott’s astonishing interview. I discussed Friday evening with Gerard Malanga who remarked that Knott had really gotten the attention of which he claimed to have been deprived. I told Gerard I’m not so sure. I would have said, too, that Stanley Plumly’s attention came rather belatedly. I feel that Knott’s pain keeps eluding me, that I need to try harder to understand where he was coming from. It certainly was about belonging and unbelonging, issues that have vexed me. I think some of us instinctively unbelong for many different reasons, some of them so internalized as to be inaccessible. I’m really not prepared to make any judgments about why poets write or whether they entertain more ambition than they cop to. I suspect they follow their instincts for better and worse. And sometimes better or worse doesn’t emerge until long after they’ve left the stage, a stage that might well have eluded them in the first place. I remember a famous poet answering this question, What is the worst thing that ever happened to you as a poet? God, what a question! Perhaps I would have said most of the poems I write, but this guy quite marvelously said, Following Mark Strand at the podium.
    55 mins · Like · 4
  • Carole Ann Borges I think I write for myself, but not in the narrow context it seems to be used here. I mean that I am not overly concerned with pandering to what I think the magazines might like or to copying (with slight alteration of tints) someone else's poems beca...See More
    52 mins · Edited · Like · 3
  • Norman Finkelstein Publication – is the Auction
    Of the Mind of Man –
    53 mins · Like · 3
  • Djelloul Marbrook Bravo! Our culture is about auction.
    52 mins · Like · 2
  • Judith Barrington I have had many students who say this very thing and provoke a certain impatience in me. Not only are they enrolled in a writing class, eager for the other students (and me) to be their audience, but furthermore, the very act of writing implies communication with others or other. NO. They don't write as if it's a letter beginning, "Dear me, I'm about to tell you a story you already know..." They tell the story to some reader or other, whether they know it or not.
    48 mins · Like · 2
  • Jack Miller What exactly does "writing for yourself" mean? I write because I have to write, first, my journals as a thought process to carry out Socrates' "Know thyself"-- which I have kept irregularly since I was 18, which are an ever surprising source of revelation about my past selves. Then there are the articles, dissertation, reviews and the like I have published in relation to my education and my profession, but often for sheer enjoyment. These are often reactions I want to share. Finally there are my novel, short stories, and poems, which I have written because I wanted to create something out of my knowledge and experience that go beyond myself, but which I have never been willing to pursue publication with the determination it apparently takes to find the right place and to tailor the work to a particular journal or press. My journals, poems, and my fiction are not polished or "finished" in the sense of being edited and ready for specific publication. Eventually that might matter to me, but not now. Writing is its own reward, an intrinsic good giving me the joy of an aesthetic distance from, a unique perspective upon, myself and my experience of life, friends, lovers, nature, existence, and the state of the world.
    44 mins · Like · 2
  • Wendy Battin Djelloul, I don't find it hard to understand Knott. He struggled so long it was hard to get through, and those who can afford to be poets live a different life. I'm awed by the work he managed to leave us, always have been.
    44 mins · Like · 2
  • Carole Ann Borges I do sometimes tell students or people in workshops that there is the possibility of writing only for one's self, but that means their work very likely will never be up to publishing standards. Poetry writing is a skill like any other and needs to be studied and techniques need to be learned. It is a choice they have to make.. I have met adults who have many journals full of poems they have never sent out. Not everyone who sings in the shower needs to strive to be a famous singer. Not every student in a writing class really wants to be a successful writer.
  • Djelloul Marbrook Jack, I regard my poems as algorithms. I use them to figure out things I need to understand, to cope with conundrums, Gordian knots, so I understand very well your remarks.
    41 mins · Unlike · 2

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