Saturday, December 31, 2011


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Those of you who are regular readers have no doubt seen me mention that you should never confuse the speaker in the poem with the poet. Just because I write about something in a poem, it doesn't mean it happened to me. Let's consider the two poems I wrote for my children: "Mama Zeus and Katrina Athena" and "Boy" at ."

Am I the poet? Yes. Did I write these poems for MY children? Yes. Am I the speaker in the poem? No. My daughter did not spring from my head to be born as a fully-grown goddess. My son did not have to fly away from an island on wings made of wax and feathers by his father.

I learned to conduct the critical analysis of literature through the use of New Criticism (not really new -- it started in the 1930s and is coming back into vogue). Try thinking of New Criticism as placing a poem or a short story or a novel in a bell jar and studying the text from all angles. Don't compare it to other poems; don't consider the poet's experiences; don't concern yourself with the time period in which it was written unless it's relevant to the text.

New Criticism = Close Textual Analysis

As for poetry, poetry does not make statements. Poetry suggests; poetry indicates. Although the sound of the poetry achieved through the words I use is important to me, I am more concerned with the images I present by putting the words together. And I don't care if the words rhyme.

I appreciate the many kind comments you have made on my poems, but I want to make sure we're on the same page. When Yeats wrote "Leda and the Swan," I assure you he was not present when Zeus turned himself into a swan to rape Leda, a young woman. I can suggest all sorts of things in poetry, but it doesn't make them true.

Normally, my poetry and my fiction come from a kernel of truth in my life -- but that's all.

Infinities of love,



  1. Poetry is for intellectuals. I'm just confused. You wrote it but you didn't say it. My head hurts.

  2. I think the reason it causes so much confusion is becasue many people blog poetry as a way of safely and figuratively expressing what they are feeling. Therefore they are the poet and the speaker. I do this. On the rare occasion I am just writing to write, I usually title it as fictional.

    I know you don't usually write this way, as you have pointed out many times. I can see your use of intellectual spins to create a story in prose. It's beautiful.

    So, no confusion here. :) I will still write and comment, and not worry so much about 'cha.


  3. It's like crime novels. An author writes about a psychotic serial killer, but isn't necessarily one.

  4. I understand--& I LOVE your poems!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, Lola!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I should also point out that many other kinds of critical analysis exist: feminist, Marxist, historical, etc. My beloved mentor Dr. Charles W. Carter taught New Criticism, so it's what I use. Of course, feminism creeps into some of my writing, too.

  6. Coffey, Read Rory's (The Writer Currently Knows As Rory) comment. I think it will help you understand. Your comment is first, then Julianna's, and Rory's is third.


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